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Interpreting the Evidence

Racial/Ethnic Distribution of Public School Students in New York, c. 1990

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Contemporary United States (1965 - present)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Racial/Ethnic Distribution of Public School Students in New York, c. 1990 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Chart showing the percent distribution of public school students by racial/ethnic origin in New York State from 1986–87 through 1989–90, ca. 1990
Historical Context
Charts and tables like this one are compiled annually by boards of education throughout the nation in order to determine the ethnic and racial breakdown of students in schools.  This is not unlike what is done during our nation’s census process every ten years.  The information in these tables can be used for many purposes, including (but not limited to) funding, testing statistics, and legislation.
Essential Question
How does immigration impact schools?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the key details contained in this chart and explain the impact of immigration on schools.
Historical Challenges
Using the New York State Education Department website listed below under Resources, locate this chart for recent years. Compare these years to 1989–90. Have the trends continued or changed?
Research the racial/ethnic origin distribution in your school district. Create a similar chart and compare your district with the “Big Five” and with the total for New York State.
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Describe the information in this chart in words. Try not to use percentages. (Examples: City x has double the population of Black students that City y has. The number of Hispanic students tends to rise/fall annually for City z.)
Art/English as a Second Language: Use different colors and icons to represent each group shown in this chart by time and location, and incorporate this information into an informative poster complete with a key.
Math: For one of the academic years listed, make a pie chart out of the information that is shown for each of the five cities. Make a pie chart for the rest of the state for one of the academic years listed.
Math: For one of the academic years listed, make a bar graph that compares the information for each of the five cities to the rest of the state.