Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

California Schools--A Snapshot

Prologue to A Blueprint for Great Schools Version 2.0.

Back to Blueprint 2.0 Table of Contents

California's rich cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity has always been its strength, providing the talent, drive, and creativity to preserve and enhance our state's leadership in high technology, entertainment, agriculture, and so many other fields.

California's student population reflects our diversity, according to the latest statistics, which cover the 2014–15 school year. Fifty-three percent of California's 6.2 million students are Latino, 25 percent are white, 8.7 percent are Asian, and 6.1 percent are African American. In addition, 58 percent, or about 3.6 million students, qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

About 23 percent of students are English learners, a total of 1.4 million students. More than 60 languages are spoken, with Spanish by far the most prevalent (84 percent), followed by Vietnamese (2.3 percent), Tagalog (1.5 percent), Cantonese (1.4 percent), and Hmong (1 percent).

California students attend 10,366 schools and 1,125 charter schools in about 1,000 school districts. In 2014, California's high school graduation rate reached a record high of 80.8 percent, up from 74.7 in 2010.

Unfortunately, California's school funding continues to lag. The latest annual state ranking by Education Week placed California 46th in the nation in school spending, but it was based on data from 2011–12. California's expanding state budget for 2015–16 has certainly increased our ranking, though California is still likely to remain in the bottom half of the nation.

Previous Chapter | Next Chapter

Questions: Dina Fong | dfong@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0551 
Last Reviewed: Thursday, February 2, 2017
Recently Posted in Initiatives & Programs
  • California Safe Haven School Districts List (added 05-Apr-2017)
    A list of California school districts that call themselves Safe Havens.
  • Safe Havens (added 05-Apr-2017)
    Safe Havens are school districts, county offices of education, and direct-funded charter schools that have committed to reassuring students, parents, and educators that they are all welcome regardless of immigration status.