Data analysis: Wilson demographics continue rapid shift

Ellida Parker

Enrollment data released this month revealed that the proportion of Black students at Wilson is continuing to decline as the proportion of white students in the school climbs. This year’s student body is 30 percent Black, down two percent from last school year.

This marks the continuation of several years of steadily shifting demographics in the school: Wilson’s student body has been majority white for two years now, after several decades of being majority Black.

The percent of Black students in the school has declined by at least two percent every year for the past five years, amounting to a 16 percent total drop in the proportion of Black students at Wilson in just five years, and a 22-percent total drop over seven years. The proportion of Hispanic students in the school has also dropped by at least two percent each year for the past two years, despite several years of increase after the last Wilson boundary change.

The change in the demographic makeup of the school is likely due to a decrease in the proportion of out-of-boundary students at school. Wilson stopped accepting out-of-boundary students from its own lottery system in 2015 due to an influx of in-boundary students.

More than 80 percent of Wilson students who live outside of the Wilson bounds are students of color, whereas the neighborhoods in-bounds for Wilson are majority white. “As more in-boundary families chose this school, we became crowded,” noted Principal Kimberly Martin. “That means the student body is going to become more white,” she said.

The diversity that Wilson is so often praised for will likely continue to change shape in the coming years: the proportion of white students are increasing at both of its main feeder schools, Alice Deal Middle School and Hardy Middle School. The proportion of Black students at Alice Deal Middle School is three percent lower than it was two years ago, and the proportion of Black students at Hardy Middle School has declined by over 16 percent in five years.

Despite the rapid increase of the white population at Wilson, the school remains the only comprehensive public high school in the District that has more than eight white students, a Beacon analysis found.