English learners in the state’s schools

They constitute nearly one-fourth of the student population

It’s well understood that proficiency in English is critical to success in school. Unfortunately, nearly one in four California students is an English learner, meaning his or her first language is not English. English learners in the early grades face the formidable challenge of mastering curriculum content at the same time they are learning a new language. This can set them back in ways that are hard to overcome. Statewide in 2009, 20.5 percent of students were Spanish-speaking English learners, while 3.7 percent were English learners with another primary language (a total of 24.2 percent). The percentage of English learners varied greatly among counties, from just 1.4 percent in Tuolumne County to 42.4 percent in Imperial County.