For two decades, K-12 enrollment in California was stable, hovering between 6.1 million and 6.2 million students. But within the state, there was movement: sharp enrollment declines in coastal counties – the rural north and urban Los Angeles and Orange County, where housing prices outpaced incomes – and sharp increases inland, as families moved east to bigger lots and cheaper homes. Enrollments rose between 16.6% and 26.2% in “Superior California,” which includes the Sacramento area and its exurbs, the Inland Empire and the northern and southern San Joaquin Valley regions. In 2020-21, the first full year of the pandemic, enrollment fell by 160,000 students statewide, primarily among the youngest students, as parents in many districts didn’t enroll kindergartners and first-graders. New data for the 2021-22 school year dashed any hopes of a rebound with enrollment dropping under 6 million students for the first time in two decades. And demographers project even more loss by 2030, even with a post-pandemic recovery. See our complete coverage of California’s enrollment rollercoaster here.

Click and drag the circle to see enrollment changes from 2001 through 2021.

Read more:

To get more reports like this one, click here to sign up for EdSource’s no-cost daily email on latest developments in education.

Comments (9)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * *

Comments Policy

We welcome your comments. All comments are moderated for civility, relevance and other considerations. Click here for EdSource's Comments Policy.

  1. Barry 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    Fabulous work. Congrats.

    Is there no finer granularity than the regions shown here?

  2. Frances O'Neill Zimmerman 1 month ago1 month ago

    According to your chart, (green) enrollment in San Diego Unified area schools began to decline after we moved to a Labor-dominated board of education that focussed on wages and working conditions for adults rather than issues of teaching and learning, compounded by a long-tenured school superintendent with a background only in local elementary education. It is no wonder that pandemic disruptions tipped our schools into the (red ) of deficit school attendance.

  3. Tim Taylor 1 month ago1 month ago

    Fantastic work….this really helps tell the story of what is going on…Your interactive maps are spot on, especially the year to year changes Thanks!

  4. Hans Laetz 2 months ago2 months ago

    That's a cop out. "Superior"meaning "above "is an archaic definition and you should recognize that. So should the state. At one time the state of California also claimed Native Americans were inferior. Was that right? Just because "it' s always been this way" is absolutely no excuse for moral rot. And I am shocked that you would defend this NorCal snobbery. Shame on you,. Read More

    That’s a cop out. “Superior”meaning “above “is an archaic definition and you should recognize that. So should the state. At one time the state of California also claimed Native Americans were inferior. Was that right? Just because “it’ s always been this way” is absolutely no excuse for moral rot. And I am shocked that you would defend this NorCal snobbery. Shame on you,.

    Replies

    • Tucker McElroy 2 months ago2 months ago

      Pipe down, Hans, calm yourself. It’s okay and even perfectly natural for folks like you in So Cal to feel inferior, but everything isn’t referring to you.

  5. John Moise 2 months ago2 months ago

    You did a great job in displaying important data. Thank you!

  6. Don Shalvey 2 months ago2 months ago

    Yuxuan and Daniel,

    Congratulations on sharing this consequential data. We are all smarter and wiser as a result.

    Don

  7. Hans Laetz 2 months ago2 months ago

    Knock it off with the snooty “Superior California” crap. I thought that died with the Sacramento Union. if you mean the Sacramento region, say so.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 2 months ago2 months ago

      Hans, the state drew the boundaries and created the regional names. Superior California encompasses more than the Sacramento region; it extends to the Oregon border. Many folks in Shasta County would bristle over including them in the Sacramento region. The definition in this case refers to position at the top, as in Lake Superior, not haughty, although many in the State of Jefferson may indeed feel superior.