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Schools react to shift in student demographics

SPRINGFIELD -- School districts in the state are seeing a shift in student population.
SPRINGFIELD -- School districts in the state are seeing a shift in student population. It's forcing some schools to change the way they teach. WCIA-3's Alex Davis has our Classroom Connection.

Some districts are seeing a significant increase in non-white students, so, according to the State Board of Education, they're adding bilingual programs and hiring teachers who speak both English and Spanish.

Diversity in the classroom is nothing new to 9th grader, Sarah Ashebir.

"There's like different minorities, and each class has like, a good number of kids that are, like diverse."

She says Illinois' shift in student demographics should be welcomed and districts should not be wary.

"Since we are America and it's a diverse country, and that's like what our principals are."

The State Board of Education's School Report Card shows public schools have more Hispanic students than ever before.

"We have a substantial number of Latino students in deterrent areas throughout the state. In 1998, non-whites made up 37.4% of students enrolled in Illinois' schools. Today, they make up almost half (49.9% - 2013).

"We have seen significant increase throughout the state, where we've seen that 12-point increase in just 15-years. That's a large shift."

Those increases are forcing schools to accommodate.

"They're having to readjust for that growing population."

They're changing curriculum and culture.

"Some districts are having to look forward to hiring teachers that speak Spanish so that they can communicate effectively with their students. They're running bilingual programs in their schools because they have a population of now, non-native speakers."

But, that's not all. They're also sending messages home with students in both English and Spanish.

As the percentage of non-white students continues to grow, estimates from the State Board of Education show the majority could become the minority in as little as 1 - 2 years.
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