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English Learners in California Schools

Information, resources, and educational outcomes for English Learner students.

California has the largest English learner (EL) student population in the nation. In order to ensure EL students are receiving appropriate services and making progress towards English language proficiency, the California Department of Education (CDE) monitors and reports on the educational outcomes for EL students and is committed to closing achievement gaps. This web page provides information, resources, and educational outcomes for EL students. Select one of the tabs below to access specific information or resources for EL students.

The CDE provides many free and publicly available resources to help assist English learner (EL) students, parents, districts, and schools. To access these additional resources, please visit the English Learners web page.

English Learner Population in California

California has the largest English learner (EL) student population in the nation. This tab provides an overview of California’s EL student population in 2021–22.

For definitions of terms used in these reports, please visit Glossary of Terms for English Learner (EL) Reports

2021–2022 Student Enrollment

  • 5,892,240 total student enrollment for kindergarten through grade 12
  • 1,127,648 are current English Learners (ELs), 19.1% of California's 5.9 million students are EL students
  • 963,056 are Reclassified Fluent English Proficient (RFEP), 16.3% of California's 5.9 million students are RFEP students

2021–2022 Ever-ELs

As indicated in the flow chart below, there are 2,090,704 Ever-ELs. The number of Ever-ELs is a combination two boxes at the bottom: 1,127,648 EL students and the 963,056 RFEP students.

Flowchart for Ever-EL

Enrollment by EL Status

As indicated in the pie chart below, there are 2,090,704 Ever-ELs in 2021–22.
Data Source : 2021–22 "At Risk" and Long-Term English Learners (LTEL) by Grade.

Piechart for Ever-EL

 

Out of the 2,090,704 ELs in California, 963,056 (46%) are RFEPs, 497,471 (24%) have been ELs for less than three years, 211,055 (10%) are At-Risk of becoming LTEL, 379,290 (18%) are LTEL, and 39,832 (2%) have been ELs for more than four years but are not At-Risk or LTEL.

State Level Educational Outcomes of English Learners

The outcomes for English learners (EL) students are annually reported on DataQuest. DataQuest is the California Department of Education’s online, public reporting system that provides reports about California’s schools and school districts. To find out how to access reports specifically for EL on DataQuest, view these Instructions on Accessing Data (DOCX).

Percent of Students Meeting or Exceeding Standards - 2020–2021 Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in English Language Arts/Literacy

The graph below displays the 2020–2021 school year percent of EL, Reclassified Fluent English Proficient (RFEP), Ever EL, and English only students meeting or exceeding standards on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in English language arts/literacy (ELA).

For definitions of the different EL student groups on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment, please visit English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics External link opens in new window or tab.

Graph displaying school year percent of EL. Full description available in the text immediately following this image.

The Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in ELA is only offered in grades 3-8 and grade 11. The results of the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in ELA is as follows:

  • Out of 113,475 EL students with scores, 11.3% of EL students met or exceeded standards on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment ELA.
  • Out of 159,396 RFEP students with scores, 58.1% of RFEP students met or exceeded standards on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment ELA.
  • Out of 272,908 Ever ELs with scores, 38.6% of Ever ELs met or exceeded standards on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment ELA.
  • Out of 431,459 English only students with scores, 57.4% of English only students met or exceeded standards on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment ELA.
Percent of Students Meeting or Exceeding Standards - 2020–2021 Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in Mathematics

The graph below displays the 2020–2021 school year percent of EL, Reclassified Fluent English Proficient (RFEP), Ever EL, and English only students meeting or exceeding standards on the Smarter Balanced Assessment in mathematics.

For definitions of the different EL student groups on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment results, please visit English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics External link opens in new window or tab.

Graph displaying percent of students meetinf or exceeding math. Full description available in the text immediately following this image.

The Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in mathematics is only offered in grades 3-8 and grade 11. The results of the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in mathematics is as follows:

  • Out of 115,702 EL students with scores, 8.4% of EL students met or exceeded standards on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment mathematics.
  • Out of 159,364 RFEP students with scores, 34.7% of RFEP students met or exceeded standards on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment mathematics.
  • Out of 275,103Ever ELs with scores, 23.6% of Ever ELs met or exceeded standards on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment mathematics.
  • Out of 437,629English only students with scores, 38.1% of English only students met or exceeded standards on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment mathematics.
2020–2021 Percent of Students Chronically Absent

The graph below displays the 2020–2021 school year chronic absenteeism rates for EL and non-EL students. Chronic absence rate is calculated as the percent of students who miss ten percent or more of the days they are expected to attend. Statewide, 17.5% ELs had a absenteeism rate of 17.5%, compared to 13.5% for non-ELs.

For definitions on the different EL student groups on DataQuest reports, please visit Glossary of Terms for English Learner (EL) Reports.

Graph displaying percent chronically absent.  Full description available in the text immediately following this image.

2020–2021 Suspension Rate

The 2020–2021 school year suspension rates for EL and non-EL students. Suspension rate is calculated as the percent of all students who were suspended one or more times during the school year for an in-school or out-of-school suspension. Statewide, ELs and non-ELs had a suspension rate of 0.2%.

For definitions on the different EL student groups on DataQuest reports, please visit Glossary of Terms for English Learner (EL) Reports.

2020–2021 Stability Rate

The graph below displays the 2020–2021 school year stability rates for EL and non-EL students. Stability rate is calculated as the percent of students with a minimum of 245 consecutive calendar days at the same school without a disqualifying exit (e.g., truant, expelled). Statewide 92.1% ELs were chronically absent compared to 92.3% non-ELs were chronically absent.

Graph displaying stability rate.  Full description available in the text immediately following this image.

2020–2021 Four- Year Cohort Graduation Rate

The graph below displays the 2020–2021 school year four-year cohort graduation rates for EL and non-EL students. The four-year cohort graduation rate is calculated as the percent of students who graduate high school with a traditional high school diploma within four years from the time they enter ninth grade. Statewide, 67.1% ELs graduated within 4 years compared to 86.1% of non-ELs.

For definitions on the different EL student groups on DataQuest reports, please visit Glossary of Terms for English Learner (EL) Reports.

Graph displaying 4-yr cohort grad rate.  Full description available in the text immediately following this image.

2020–2021 Five- Year Cohort Graduation Rate

The graph below displays the 2020–2021 school year five-year cohort graduation rates for EL and non-EL students. The five-year cohort graduation rate is calculated as the percent of students who graduate high school with a traditional high school diploma within five years from the time they enter ninth grade. Statewide, 73.8% ELs graduated within 5 years compared to 89.5% non-ELs.

For definitions on the different EL student groups on DataQuest reports, please visit Glossary of Terms for English Learner (EL) Reports.

Graph displaying 5-yr cohort grad rate.  Full description available in the text immediately following this image.

State Level Accountability for English Learners

Accountability results for English learner (EL) students, outlined below, are published annually on the California School Dashboard (Dashboard). The Dashboard provides information about how local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools are meeting the needs of California's diverse student population. The results on this tab represent EL results statewide on the 2019 Dashboard. To find out how LEAs and schools are meeting the needs of their EL students, visit the California School Dashboard External link opens in new window or tab.

Image of California School Dashboard logo.

The English Learner Progress indicator had a performance level of Medium. Out of 844,257 EL students, 48.3% made progress towards English language proficiency.

Image of English Learner Progress. Further description available above image.

On the right, the College/Career indicator. The gauge points to Yellow. Out of 71,834 EL students, 16.8% are prepared, an increase of 2.1%. In the center, the Suspension Rate indicator. The gauge points to Yellow. Out of 1,290,848 EL students, 3.1% were suspended at least once and maintained 0.1%. On the left, the Chronic Absenteeism indicator. The gauge points to Orange. Out of 1,040,077 EL students, 9.9% were chronically absent, an increase of 1.4%.

Image of the gauge indicators. Further description available above image.

On the right, the English Language Arts indicator included 968,077 EL students. The gauge points to yellow. EL students are 45.1 points below standard, an increase of 3.1 points.  In the center, the Mathematics indicator included 967,152 EL students. The gauge points to Orange. EL students are 68.6 points below standard and maintained at 2.2 points. On the left, the Graduation Rate indicator. The gauge points to Yellow.  Out of 73,734 EL students, 72.7% graduated, an increase of 1.7%.

Image of gauge indicators. Further description available above image.

 

Visit the California School Dashboard External link opens in new window or tab. to view statewide indicators. To find out how to access statewide indicators specifically for EL students on the California School Dashboard, view these Instructions on Accessing Data (DOCX).

For more information on how the EL student group is defined for each state indicator on the Dashboard, please visit Who is Included in the English Learner Student Group (PDF)

English Learner Progress – 2019

English Learner progress rate is calculated as the percent of EL students making progress towards English language proficiency. In 2019, 48.3% of EL students made towards English language proficiency. This percent is based on based on 844,257 EL students statewide.

Percent for EL students statewide. Further description available above image.

English Language Arts/Literacy – 2019

The English Language arts/literacy (ELA) indicator shows how well students are at meeting grade-level standards on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in ELA. The Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in ELA is administered in grades 3-8 and grade 11. The ELA indicator combines current EL students and students who have been reclassified within the last four years. The 2019 ELA gauge for EL students is pointing to yellow. In 2019, current EL students and recently reclassified EL students scored an average of 45.1 points below standard. This number increased 3.1 points from the previous school year. This is based on 968,077 current EL students and recently reclassified EL students statewide who took the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in ELA.

English Learner gauge arrow pointing to indicate yellow.

In 2019, current EL students scored an average of 90.6 points below standard. This number increased 2 points from the previous school year. This is based on 502,424 current EL students statewide who took the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in ELA.

Current English Learner count. Further description available above image.

In 2019, reclassified EL students scored an average of 4 points above standard. This number increased 2.8 points from the previous school year. This is based on 465,653 reclassified EL students who took the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in ELA.

Reclassified English Learner. Further description available above image.

In 2019, English only students scored an average of 9.4 points above standard. This number increased 3.2 points from the previous school year. This is based on 1,818,185 English only students who took the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in ELA.

Image of English only statistics. Further description available above image.

Mathematics – 2019

The mathematics indicator shows how well students are at meeting grade-level standards on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in mathematics. The Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in mathematics is administered in grades 3-8 and grade 11. The mathematics indicator combines current EL students and students who have been reclassified within the last four years. The 2019 mathematics gauge for EL students is pointing to orange. In 2019, current EL students and recently reclassified EL students scored an average of 68.6 points below standard. This number increased 2.2 points from the previous school year. This is based on 967,152 current EL students and recently reclassified EL students statewide who took the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in mathematics.

English Learner gauge arrow pointing to orange indicator.

In 2019, current EL students scored an average of 106.7 points below standard. This number increased 0.2 points from the previous school year. This is based on 502,095 current EL students statewide who took the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in mathematics.

Current English Learner. Further description available above image.

In 2019, reclassified EL students scored an average of 27.3 points below standard. This number increased 3.2 points from the previous school year. This is based on 465,057 reclassified EL students who took the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in mathematics.

Reclassified English Learner. Further description available above image.

In 2019, English only students scored an average of 22.7 points below standard. This number increased 2.7 points from the previous school year. This is based on 1,813,063 English only students who took the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in mathematics.

English Only. Further description available above image.

Chronic Absenteeism – 2019

The chronic absenteeism rate is calculated as the percent of students who miss ten percent or more of the days they are expected to attend. The chronic absenteeism gauge for EL students is pointing to orange. In 2019, 9.9% of EL students were chronically absent. This is an increase of 1.4% from the previous school year. This percent is based on 1,040,077 EL students statewide.

English Learner gauge arrow pointing to orange indicator.

Suspension Rate – 2019

The suspension rate is calculated as the percent of all students who were suspended one or more times during the school year for an in-school or out-of-school suspension. The suspension gauge for EL students is pointing to yellow. In 2019, 3.1 % of EL students were suspended at least once. This rate slightly increased by 0.1% from the previous school year. This percent is based on 1,290,848 EL students statewide.

English Learner gauge arrow pointing to yellow indicator.

Graduation – 2019

The graduation rate for the California School Dashboard is a blended rate and includes the one-year and combined four-and five-year graduation rate. In 2019, 72.7% of EL students graduated high school. The graduation gauge for EL students is pointing to yellow. This rate increased 1.7% from the previous school year. This percent is based on 73,734 English learner students. More information on this graduation rate calculation can be found in the 2019 California School Dashboard Technical Guide (PDF).

English Learner gauge arrow pointing to yellow indicator.

College/Career – 2019

The college/career rate is calculated as the percent of students who are prepared for success after graduation. In 2019, 16.8% of EL students are prepared for success after graduation. The college/career gauge for EL students is pointing to yellow. This rate increased 2.1% from the previous school year. This percent is based on 71,834 EL students statewide.

English Learner gauge arrow pointing to yellow indicator.

EL Roadmap

The California English Learner Roadmap: Strengthening Comprehensive Educational Policies, Programs, and Practices for English Learners (CA EL Roadmap) was adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) in July 2017. The CA EL Roadmap is a Guide to assist local educational agencies to implement California's 21st century college-and-career-ready standards, curriculum, instruction programs, and assessments.

The CA EL Roadmap policy outlines four main principles:

  • Principle One: Assets-Oriented and Needs Responsive Schools
  • Principle Two: Intellectual Quality of Instruction and Meaningful Access
  • Principle Three: System Conditions that Support Effectiveness
  • Principle Four: Alignment and Articulation Within and Across Systems

For more information and resources on the CA EL Roadmap, please visit English Learner Roadmap.

COVID-19

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the California Department of Education has provided resources, webinars, and guidance for EL distance learning and the transition to schools reopening.

For more information, please visit the CDE’s COVID-19 EL resources web page at COVID-19 English Learner Resources.

For more information on COVID-19 and Data Reporting, please visit the CDE's COVID-19 and Data Reporting web page.

For more information on COVID-19 and Accountability, please visit the CDE's COVID-19 Accountability FAQs web page.

English Learners Monitoring

The California Department of Education is committed to moving all of California’s English learner (EL) students to English language proficiency as rapidly and effectively as possible. In order to meet this goal, the CDE provides monitoring and technical assistance to local educational agencies on the EL program and services.

For more information, please visit the CDE’s Technical Assistance and Monitoring web page at Technical Assistance and Monitoring.

Downloadable English Learner Data Files

The California Department of Education makes available several downloadable data files on English learners.

2019 English Learner Progress Indicator (ELPI) Status

ELPI Status measures progress toward English language proficiency.

EL Definitions

This tab provides information and resources on how English Learner (EL) students are defined across the various data reports provided by the California Department of Education (CDE). This tab also provides information on additional resources for EL students, parents, schools, and districts.

EL Definitions

General Definitions

This section provides general definitions of ELs, Reclassified Fluent English Proficient (RFEP) students, and those students who were ever English Learners (Ever-ELs).

  • English Learner – A student who enrolls in a California school beginning in any grade level, transitional kindergarten through grade twelve, has a language other than English identified on the Home Language Survey, and upon assessment, obtained a level of English proficiency that indicates programs and services are necessary. Students identified as English learners receive programs and services until they meet the reclassification criteria pursuant to Education Code (EC) Section 313.
  • Reclassified Fluent English Proficient Student – A former EL student who has met the four criteria specified in California EC Section 313(f). For more information on the four criteria for reclassification, please visit Reclassifications web page.
  • Ever-ELs – Current EL students and RFEP students.
Long-Term English Learners (LTELs) and At-Risk for LTEL

For definitions of Long-Term English Learners and students “At-Risk” of becoming Long-Term English Learners, please visit Glossary of Terms for English Learner (EL) Reports.

DataQuest Reports

For definitions on the different EL student groups on DataQuest reports, please visit the Glossary of Terms for English Learner (EL) Reports.

Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in ELA and Mathematics

For definitions of EL students, Ever ELs, and English only students on the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment, please visit English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics External link opens in new window or tab..

For additional information on the achievement of EL students, please visit Understanding English Learner Achievement in California (PDF).

Initial and Summative English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC)

For definitions of EL students on the Initial ELPAC, please visit Understanding Initial ELPAC Summary Reports External link opens in new window or tab..

For definitions of EL students on the Summative ELPAC, please visit Understanding Summative ELPAC Summary Reports External link opens in new window or tab..

California School Dashboard

The California School Dashboard (Dashboard) has six state indicators. These indicators are reported at the student group level (i.e., race/ethnicity, foster youth, EL, homeless). However, students included in the EL student group vary by state indicator. Please visit Who is Included in the English Learner Student Group? (PDF) for an explanation of how the English learner student group is included in each indicator.

Questions: Data Visualization and Reporting Office | ELAccountability@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-3071 
Last Reviewed: Friday, September 16, 2022
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