SACRAMENTO—The California Department of Education (CDE) today released K–12 public school enrollment data for the 2021–22 academic year.
The annual snapshot of fall enrollment shows a fifth year of decline as the state emerges from two challenging years of the COVID-19 pandemic. The release provides yet another data point in the continuing analysis of California’s overall demographic shifts and related pandemic impacts. The information is crucial to understanding how best to plan for a robust recovery in years ahead.
California enrollment declines are consistent with national data trends that show enrollment is dropping across the country. These declines began prior to the pandemic and are projected to continue into the future in California. Large urban districts in California account for close to a third of the drop in the current year. Reports published suggest that both Chicago and New York also saw significant declines for the second year of the pandemic.
With this data release, we see that the COVID-19 disruptions are playing a large part in negating the steady enrollment gains over the last decade. In an effort to address the needs of local educational agencies (LEAs), the CDE has provided supports to districts on outreach to families of chronically absent students during the pandemic. Special attention is also being placed on boosting transitional kindergarten and kindergarten enrollment and helping schools to meet the needs of families around transition years and to offer options and pathways to keep high school students connected.
In addition, the CDE is supporting efforts to increase funding to offset declining enrollment, including sponsoring two key bills: Senate Bill 830 (Portantino), legislation that could provide school districts with financial supports as well as resources to create outreach strategies to reengage with students and families who may have experienced increased barriers to access during the pandemic, and Assembly Bill 1640 (Muratsuchi), a bill that would increase the base grants to amounts equal to the national average per-pupil funding level.
Statewide findings for this year’s enrollment data during COVID-19 in 2021–22 include:
Enrollment is down from 6,002,523 in 2020–21 to 5,892,240 in 2021–22, a decrease of more than 110,000 students and 1.8 percent from the prior year. This follows a steady decline in public school enrollment statewide since 2014–15.
Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity
Data from 2020–21 to 2021–22 show that total enrollment of African American students declined 3.6 percent, Asian students declined 1.9 percent, Hispanic/Latino students declined 0.9 percent, and White students declined 4.9 percent. The student group that identified as two or more races increased by 1.7 percent while the student group that did not report their race increased by 18.3 percent.
Trends show that the largest grade-level decreases in the enrollment data can be found in grades one, four, seven, and nine. Enrollment increases from the prior year occurred in kindergarten and grade twelve.
The data are compiled by the CDE from data submitted annually by LEAs to the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS).
Under state law enacted during the pandemic, school districts will not experience a decline in revenues due to decreases in attendance in the current academic year.
The updated enrollment data are available on the CDE Data Quest website.