NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 10, 2005

Rising immigration and the "baby boom echo" have boosted U.S. school enrollment to more than 49 million, according to two federal reports. As immigrants continue pouring into the country, communities in the South and West will feel the brunt of increased enrollment and the need to expand schools or build new ones, according to reports from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Education.

A surge of immigrant children has also led to a steady increase in the number of students who speak a foreign language at home, and if they speak English at all, they do so "with difficulty," according to, "The Condition of Education 2005," from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

  • The number who spoke a language other than English at home and who spoke English with difficulty increased by 124 percent from 1979 to 2003.
  • In 1979, 9 percent, or 3.7 million students spoke a foreign language at home, and more than a third of them spoke English with difficulty.
  • By 2001, 19 percent, or 9 million students spoke no English at home, and more than 2.4 million spoke English with difficulty.
  • Some 5 percent of both black and white school-age children spoke a language other than English at home, compared with 19 percent of American Indians, 65 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders and 68 percent of Hispanic children.

While researchers did not state a direct correlation between immigrant children's low English proficiency and the success of schools in meeting the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act, the statistics show Hispanic children trailing other minorities in reading and math progress.

Source: George Archibald, "Student Bodies Hit 49 Million," Washington Times, June 2, 2005; "School Enrollment Surpasses 1970 Baby-Boom Crest, Census Bureau Reports," U.S. Census Bureau, June 1, 2005; and National Center for Education Statistics, "The Condition of Education 2005," U.S. Department of Education, June 1, 2005.

For U.S. Dept. of Education text:

For NCES report:


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