CA Public School Enrollment Continues Decline

Although California’s public school enrollment rose nearly 20% in the past two decades, it has been on a slight but consistent decline since 2005, in a reflection of California’s shrinking child population.

Approximately 6.2 million K-12 students were enrolled in public school in 2012, down about 2% since 2005, according to new data available from

Children at Hacienda Elementary School

Some counties have seen sharper declines, including Los Angeles County, where public school enrollment dipped 9% between 2005 and 2012. Some rural counties with small student populations shrank by as much as 32% during that period.

The data also show a striking shift in the racial/ethnic composition of public school students. The percentage of Latino students enrolled in California public schools continues to rise, with Latino students comprising 52% of all public school students in 2012.

In contrast, the proportion of white students continues to shrink: they made up 31% of public school children in 2005, compared to 26% in 2012. African American student enrollment also declined by nearly 20% between 2005 and 2012.

In general, as school enrollment decreases, so does average daily attendance (ADA). Declines in ADA result in decreased per pupil funding from the state.

This interactive motion chart highlights trends in public school enrollment across California. By default, the number of children in each racial/ethnic group is shown. Press play to see changes over time.


– To follow the progression of a particular racial/ethnic group, hover over or click a bar.
– Change view from “number” to “percent” by clicking on the left axis.

For more information on public school enrollment, including county- and school district-level data, click here. For more information on the racial and ethnic composition of public school students, click here. For our complete data advisory on public school enrollment, click here.

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