The Central Region is geographically vast and sparsely populated, representing just over 16.2% of the total land area of the U.S., yet only 5.7% of the population. The region has 8,267 public schools operating in 1,894 school districts, approximately 203,232 full time public school teachers, and more than 2.9 million students. The region is also largely rural, with 26.6% of the student population educated in rural schools. Within the region are six major metropolitan areas, four of which are in the top 50 largest cities in the U.S.: Denver, CO; Kansas City, MO; Omaha, NE; and Colorado Springs, CO.
Although the student population in the Central Region is mostly white, each state has a growing number of nonwhite students. The population of English language learners across the seven states has increased by nearly 150% over the past 10 years. Missouri’s predominant minority population is African American, while the predominant minority populations in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming are Hispanic. Both North Dakota and South Dakota have large percentages of Native American students. In all states, over a 30% of students are identified as economically disadvantaged and at least 10% of total students are identified as having disabilities. Like other regions, Central states have large achievement gaps between white students and other racial/ethnic groups and between economically advantaged and disadvantaged students.