Nearly 1.4 Million English Learners in CA Public Schools; Percent Declining
The percentage of California public school students classified as "English Learner" – not proficient enough in the language to succeed in a school’s regular instructional program – has been declining in recent years. Despite this trend, nearly 1.4 million students, or 22% of all public school students, were classified as English Learners in 2013, according to data newly available on kidsdata.org. California educates more than one-third of the nation's students with limited English proficiency.
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At the county level, the percentages of English Learners range widely, from 2% in Tuolumne County to 42% in Imperial County in 2013.
About 85% of English Learners speak Spanish as their first language, with much smaller percentages speaking Vietnamese, Filipino, Cantonese, Korean, Arabic, Hmong, Mandarin, Punjabi and Russian among 60 languages identified by school officials.
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Research shows that children in families with a primary language other than English experience disparities in health status, quality of health care services, and access to care, compared to children with English as a primary household language. Academically, children with limited English proficiency tend to have lower test scores than their native English-speaking peers. These circumstances create significant challenges for students, families, teachers and school officials.
A decline in the number of English learners could mean less funding from the State for school districts, as the new Local Control Funding Formula earmarks extra funds for districts based on their numbers of students who are English Learners, are English Learners, low income students or foster youth.
Read more about English Learners in California, including policy implications>>
See English Learner Data for California Children
English Learners, California Department of Education
Pew Hispanic Center: Language
Questions and Answers on the Rights of Limited-English Proficient Students, U.S. Department of Education
Children of Immigrants Data Tool, Urban Institute
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English Learners in Public Schools (2013)