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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #24-30
May 16, 2024
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

California’s 2024 Enrollment Data Reflect Doubled Growth for Earliest Learners as Overall Decline Slows

SACRAMENTO—On Thursday, May 16, the California Department of Education (CDE) released annual enrollment data for the 2023–24 school year, which showed a continued, though slowing, decrease in overall enrollment.

Significant bright spots include a doubling of enrollment in transitional kindergarten (TK) over the last two years, from 75,465 in 2021–22 to 151,491 in 2023–24.

This historic growth in TK reflects significant investment in early learning, including $500 million in Universal PreKindergarten (UPK) Planning and Implementation Grants; a statewide communications campaign to raise awareness of free, public early learning programs; and state-level support of UPK expansion across California’s 1,000 school districts through coaching and technical assistance of UPK coordinators across the state.

Some local trends are positive despite the slight statewide decrease in overall enrollment. Inyo County shows the largest increase in student enrollment, with 6.4% growth from the year prior.

Enrollment figures for charter schools and private schools do not show a corresponding increase when compared to the continued decrease in traditional public school enrollment. This suggests that continually suppressed enrollment numbers more likely reflect family disengagement than school competition, underscoring the urgency of embedding family engagement resources and strategies across California’s public school systems.

This successful engagement of TK students and families may offer important lessons for enrollment challenges that persist across the state, especially as the demographics of TK enrollment appear representative of California’s families overall.

“I am very grateful to see this exciting outlook for our earliest learners,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “We know how important it is for support for every child to read by third grade, and a critical part of that effort is to make sure that our youngest students are supported to have healthy development in their early years. This success is what can happen for our students when we effectively engage our families.”

As California continues to climb back from pandemic-era disruptions of school enrollment, family engagement remains a key area of focus for state and local educators, especially to support improved enrollment and attendance. The success of the UPK initiative suggests a strongly optimistic outlook about the return on investment of educational programs that focus on family engagement.

Thurmond has championed a whole child, whole family approach to transforming public schools since taking office as California’s 28th State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2019. Thurmond’s strategic initiatives that focus on family engagement include community schools, which create strategic partnerships between schools and local service providers to integrate family engagement services and student wellness services directly on school campuses.

Last week, CDE announced $1.3 billion in support for the continued expansion of the California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP) in 1,000 schools across the state. CCSPP has become the largest single investment in community schools anywhere in the nation.

Both community schools and UPK are critical components of Thurmond’s Transforming California Schools Initiative.

For more information on community schools, please see the CDE California Community Schools web page. For more information on UPK and TK, please see Universal PreKindergarten FAQs and Transitional Kindergarten FAQs on the CDE website. TK is a core component of the UPK program. It enrolls students in the first year of a two-year kindergarten program, using a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate.

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

Last Reviewed: Thursday, May 16, 2024
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