Hispanic students increase 9.2% in Oklahoma


Wednesday, January 14th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma's school population has become more diverse, with a 9.2% jump in Hispanic students and a 3.5% increase in Indian students last year.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett, appearing before a Senate budget subcommittee Wednesday, said the big increase in Hispanic students will require schools to spend more money to hire bilingual teachers and train others in communications skills.

Overall, the student population grew by 1,624 or less than 1% in 2003 compared to the previous year. The student population for 2003 was 625,826.

Oklahoma has added 50,000 to the student population since 1990. Prior to that, student population had been on the decline for several years.

``Still, the biggest story here is the increasing diversity of our student population,'' Garrett said.

The Hispanic student population increased by 4,011 students in 2003 compared to the previous year and has climbed has climbed 14,041 in the last five years to a total of 47,797. The Indian population increased by 3,877 last year.

Since 1989, the number of Hispanic students has increased more than 200 percent, compared with an increase of 8.2% in the total student enrollment.

As a percentage of the student population, Hispanic students now make up 7.6% of the total, compared with 2.6% in 1990.

Garrett said under President Bush's No Child Life Behind program, schools are being asked to report all test information by ethnicity, poverty level, disability and English-speaking proficiency.

``We are committed to raising the academic performance of all groups of students in our state,'' she said.

Of Oklahoma's 625,826 students last year, 384,624, or 61.5%, were white; 115,724, or 18.5%, were Indian; 47,797 or 7.6%, were Hispanic and 9,418, or 1.5%, were Asian or Pacific Islander.