This data is part of a series on segregation in Illinois that resulted from a six-month Governing investigation.

 

School segregation remains a persistent problem in much of the country, and it's especially an issue in Illinois.

Governing examined school segregation in downstate Illinois by analyzing school enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics. We assessed levels of segregation among black and white students, considering enrollment totals for each school within a metro area. Our primary metric was what's known as the index of dissimilarity, with higher values (on a scale of 0 to 1) representing higher levels of segregation between black and white students. The measure, commonly used by sociologists, represents the percentage of students needing to move to a different school for an area's schools to be completely integrated, or have students evenly distributed. (Read the full report methodology.)

We found the Peoria area's schools to be more segregated between whites and blacks than any other area of the country, even topping Chicago, where the issue has been the subject of much debate for years. (View statistics of school segregation for all metro areas across the country.)

In all, eight of 10 Illinois metro area ranked among the highest third of all metropolitan areas nationally for black and white student school segregation.

SOURCE: Governing analysis of enrollment data from National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16 Common Core of Data

(Note that these results reflect black-white student segregation only. Because the report published in Governing focuses on downstate Illinois, calculations did not consider other racial and ethnic groups, including Hispanics, as there are relatively few such students in Illinois outside of the Chicago metro area.) 

Segregation within individual school districts tends to be much lower than that of their larger metro areas. That's because of how school district boundaries are drawn, which often exacerbates segregation. It's a major issue in Illinois given that the state is home to 850 public school districts, more than any other state except California and Texas.

School District Black-White Dissimilarity Index
Champaign CUSD 4 0.249
Decatur SD 61 0.243
McLean County USD 5 0.222
Peoria SD 150 0.43
Rockford SD 205 0.341
Springfield SD 186 0.179
Source: Governing calculations of 2017-18 state school enrollment data

Changes in School District Enrollment

Most of the large, urban school districts across downstate Illinois have experienced drastic demographic shifts in recent years, as white families have left cities.

White enrollment has dropped by at least a third across all of these districts, with the exception of Kankakee, since the 2002-2003 school year. For the surrounding suburban school districts where many families have relocated, the decline hasn't been nearly as severe. Numbers of white students decreased by 33 percent in Springfield Public Schools, for instance, while combined enrollment for all other districts in the same metro area changed little. Peoria Public Schools' white enrollment similarly dropped by over half, while declining by only 8 percent for other Peoria-area public school districts.

This table shows enrollment changes over the past 15 years, since the 2002-2003 school year:

School District Change in Whites Change in Blacks White Change for Other Metro Districts Black Change for Other Metro Districts
Bloomington SD 87 -35% -10% -9% 20%
Champaign CUSD 4 -33% 16% -16% 5%
Danville CCSD 118 -39% 4% -17% -39%
Decatur SD 61 -38% -11% -7% 4%
Kankakee SD 111 -27% -33% -17% -10%
Peoria SD 150 -52% -17% -8% 53%
Rockford SD 205 -37% -2% -19% 26%
Springfield SD 186 -33% 3% -4% 111%
SOURCE: Governing calculations of 2017-2018, 2002-2003 fall enrollment counts, Illinois State Board of Education

 

Read the full methodology for this special Governing report.