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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-32
April 22, 2021
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

California Department of Education Releases 2020–21 Statewide School Enrollment Data

SACRAMENTO—The California Department of Education (CDE) today released K–12 public school enrollment data for the 2020–21 academic year.

The annual snapshot of fall enrollment shows a sharp one-year decline as the state and nation grappled with a deadly pandemic that disrupted all aspects of public education.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said the CDE will redouble its efforts to work with school leaders to gain a deeper understanding of the myriad of reasons behind the drop, while helping school districts bolster effective student and family engagement strategies in the weeks and months ahead.

“In a year that has been so challenging for educators, students, and families, it is concerning to see this decrease, especially those in our youngest grades,” Thurmond said. “While there are many reasons to stay optimistic that enrollment will rebound as conditions improve, allowing more schools to safely return to in-person instruction, we also must help schools identify opportunities to engage with families who either sought new options for their students during the pandemic or need additional resources and support to connect with school and succeed.”

Earlier this school year, State Superintendent Thurmond created the CDE’s first Family Engagement Unit to provide guidance and direct support to schools as they identify and design outreach strategies to re-engage with students and families who may have experienced increased barriers to access during the pandemic.

The CDE is also helping schools understand how increased funding and resources for schools can be used for building connections, designing strategies for learning acceleration, and bolstering academic and mental health programs as students return to campus.

Statewide findings for this year’s data include:

  • Overall Enrollment 2020–2021: Overall enrollment is down from 6,163,001 in 2019–2020 to 6,002,523 in 2020–2021, a decrease of more than 160,000 students and 2.6 percent from the prior year. This follows a modest, steady decline in public school enrollment statewide since 2014–15.
  • Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity during COVID-19 (2020–2021): Data from 2019–2020 to 2020–2021 show that that the percentage of total enrollment who are African American students declined 0.1 percentage point (5.3 to 5.2), the percentage who are Asian students increased 0.2 percentage points (9.3 to 9.5), the percentage who are Hispanic/Latino students increased 0.4 percentage points from 54.9 to 55.3 and the percentage who are white students decreased 0.7 percentage points (22.4 to 21.7).
  • Grade level trends during COVID-19 (2020–2021): Data from 2020–2021 show that 88 percent of the statewide drop in enrollment from the prior year occurred in kindergarten to sixth grade. The largest grade-level decreases in the enrollment data can be found in kindergarten and in grade six. Enrollment increases from the prior year occurred in grades 5, 9, 11, and 12.

The data is compiled by the CDE from data submitted annually by local educational agencies 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 2020–21 enrollment figures.

The updated enrollment data is available on the CDE’s Data Quest website.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, November 08, 2022
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