California fall undergraduate enrollment declines have slowed, but still ‘troubling’
An 18-month period of sustained declines in California’s undergraduate enrollment has “been very troubling,” wrote the California Department of Education Monday.
As of last week, enrollment in the state’s 12-year, $35 billion education system hit its lowest point since at least 1993, when the state’s largest school district was in effect still serving its students.
The statewide percentage of students enrolled continues to fall. The average daily enrollment at all districts in the state has declined by more than 5 percent since 2012, said Daniel Sperling, the California Department of Education’s deputy director of school finance and accounting who oversees the enrollment data.
That’s a significant slowdown from the roughly 8 percent decline in enrollment that the State Student Data System is recording this year, Sperling said.
Sperling wrote the department’s board to share with them the enrollment trends and the department’s efforts to reverse them.
He wrote in his letter that enrollment is now declining at the rate of about 4 percent a year. That pace continues the state’s trend of enrollment declines that began in 2003.
“While much of the current drop is driven by declines in California’s two largest school districts, the rest of the state remains far behind in its ability to keep its students enrolled in a stable and viable system,” he wrote.
He said the state’s school finance and accounting department continued to make progress in the enrollment front, but wrote “other elements of our enrollment data reporting continue to lag.”
He explained that the enrollment information the department has collected since 2012 is not “a true representation of the enrollment in California’s K-12 schools.”
While the system tracks enrollment, it does not include “the data that shows that students are not enrolled, that students are out of school and not enrolled, and that students are not attending school,” Sperling wrote.
The system does not include the percentage of students enrolled in school, “although it includes the