California’s public schools enrollment down, Hispanic and charter school students on the rise

Detailed CDE ‘snapshot’ for 2018-19 year breaks down enrollment by ethnicity, grade, along with English language acquisition, and can be sorted by county, district, or school

The most recent state data for California’s K–12 public schools indicates that overall enrollment is down slightly, while the number of Hispanic/Latino and charter school students has risen slightly and the number of white and black students has dropped slightly.

The 2018-19 data, announced Thursday by state schools chief Tony Thurmond, breaks down enrollment by ethnicity and grade, along with English language acquisition status, and can be sorted by county, district, or school. The data can be found at https://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest.

“This data provides a critical snapshot of all students in California, highlighting trends that show areas where students are improving, where they’re struggling and where additional resources are needed,” Thurmond said in a press release.

One important category updated for the current year is school-level data for free or reduced-price meals, an indicator of student poverty under federal guidelines. All such data is used for state and federal reporting purposes, including how much a school district or school gets in supplemental grants funding through the Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF.

Thurmond 

Chief among the findings was enrollment by race/ethnicity as measured in a four-year span:

Overall enrollment is down from 6.24 million in 2014–15 to 6.19 million in 2018–19, a decrease of 0.8 percent. Also during that time, the percentage of white students decreased from 24.6 percent to 22.9 percent and the percentage of black students decreased from 6 percent to 5.4 percent.

However, between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the percentage of Hispanic/Latino students increased from 53.6 percent to 54.6 percent, a trend that has held for several years as California’s demographics continue to a shift the state toward a so-called “majority-minority” population.

Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the percentage Hispanic/Latino students classified as English learners decreased from 83.2 percent to 81.3 percent. Overall, between 2015–16 and 2018–19, the percentage of students who are English learners decreased from 22.1 percent to 19.3 percent, while the percentage of students who are reclassified as “Fluent English Proficient” increased from 16 percent to 18.3 percent during that same time period.

For enrollment in charter and noncharter schools over a four-year span, the numbers broke down this way: While overall enrollment non-charter schools is decreasing between 2014–15 and 2018–19, enrollment in charter schools has increased from 9.2 percent to 10.6 percent of the public school population statewide.

Among those schools, the findings for subgroup enrollment (English learners, homeless students, migrant students, the disabled, low-income) for 2018–19 were as follows:

Charter schools tend to have a smaller percentage of their enrollment who belong to disadvantaged student subgroups. The difference is most pronounced for the English learner subgroup. In 2018–19, some 15 percent of charter school students are identified as English learners, while 19.8 percent of non-charter school students are similarly identified.

The CDE data was derived from local educational agencies to the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, or CALPADS.

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