|June 2, 2015
Nearly 5 million English Language Learners (ELLs) were enrolled in public schools during the 2012-13 academic year, representing almost 10 percent of the total K-12 student population. ELL enrollment has increased from 3.5 million in 1998 to 4.85 million for the 2012-13 school year, with important implications for educators, communities, and the students (most of whom are U.S. born) themselves.
While these students are spread throughout the United States, their density is highest in Western states. California tops the list, with ELLs accounting for 24 percent of the state’s student body during the 2012-13 school year. Significant ELL enrollment also was seen in New Mexico (18 percent of the state’s students), Nevada (17 percent), Texas (15 percent), and Colorado (13 percent).
And while the languages spoken by ELL students are very diverse, Spanish is the most common home or first language, spoken by 71 percent of ELL students in 2013. Chinese was the second most common language spoken in ELL students’ homes, representing 4 percent of ELLs, followed by Vietnamese (3 percent) and French/Haitian Creole (2 percent).
These statistics and more, deriving from analysis of U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Education data, can be found in a pair of new fact sheets issued today by the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy:
The fact sheets, offered as part of MPI’s ELL Information Center, cover a range of topics, including:
- Number of ELL students by state and for top school districts, and their share of overall student enrollment.
- Top languages spoken by ELL students at home, with the top five languages by state, as well as the number and share of students speaking each language.
I invite you to check out these fact sheets and other resources in our ELL Information Center, which also offers research, maps, and videos examining this important student population. You can access the ELL Information Center at www.migrationpolicy.org/ellinfo.
Director, National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy
Migration Policy Institute
The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development, and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national, and international levels. For more on MPI, please visit www.migrationpolicy.org.