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Friday, March 23, 2001
CONTACT:    Parag Khandhar
(212) 344-5878 x18

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 New Census Estimates Tell Two Stories about
Asian and Pacific Islander Students

88% Asian and Pacific Islander students have at least one foreign-born parent;
High school drop out rate for API students at highest in 5 years

According to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, children of new immigrants contributed to the record level of nationwide student enrollment in 1999. An estimated 88 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) students had at least one foreign-born parent, compared with 65 percent of Hispanic students, 11 percent of Black or African American students and 7 percent of Non-Hispanic White students.

Along with the release of this report, the Asian American Federation Census Information Center (Federation CIC) summarized the following highlights of the report concerning Asian and Pacific Islander students:

  • An estimated 2.6 million Asian and Pacific Islanders enrolled in the nationís nursery, kindergarten, elementary and high schools in 1999, which accounted for 5 percent of total student enrollment.

  • Over 90% of Asian and Pacific Islander students enrolled in public elementary and high schools.

  • Of an estimated 513,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders high school students (10th to 12th grade), approximately 25,000 dropped out of high school in 1999. This represents a dropout rate of 4.8 percent for Asian and Pacific Islanders, which is higher than the 3.8 percent drop out rate for Non-Hispanic White students.

  • As shown in the chart below, the 1999 high school dropout rate of 4.8% is the highest for Asian and Pacific Islander students in the last five years.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1999 Current Population Survey

  • Of the 15 million college students enrolled in 1999, Asian and Pacific Islanders accounted for 7 percent of the nationís college student population. Of the Asian and Pacific Islander college students, 29 percent were in graduate school in 1999.

  • Similar to the trend in primary and high schools, a significant majority (75%) of Asian and Pacific Islander college students enrolled in public institutions.

Mr. Cao K. O, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation, stated, "While the findings of the Bureau report offer encouraging news on the impressive growth of Asian and Pacific Islander student population, the Federation is particularly concerned about the continuing increase in high school dropout rate for API students nationwide." Mr. O urged policymakers, education administrators, teachers, parents, and social service organizations to work together in developing feasible strategies to overcome the problem.

"The rising national dropout rate for Asian American students is unfortunately not surprising," said Mr. Larry Lee, President of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. "The public education system used so pervasively by Asian Americans must be strengthened immeasurably. Asian American children and youth who don't know English, living in poverty, need intensive school programs that address their needs."

The reports findings are not derived from Census 2000 data. These results are based on data collected in the Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau in October 1999. The aggregated nature of the data poses a limitation in interpreting the findings. The educational enrollment and/or performance data must be disaggregated for the different Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic groups for a more accurate understanding of education trends in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. The full report, entitled School Enrollment in the United States - Social and Economic Characteristics of Students, can be found on the Census Bureauís website:

The Asian American Federation of New York is a not-for-profit leadership organization with 36 member agencies that serve the cityís diverse Asian American communities. In August of last year, the Asian American Federation was designated as a Census Information Center. For more information, visit our website at



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