Spanish Speakers Predominate as English-Language Learner Population Grows

Press Release
Jun 24, 2019
Spanish Speakers Predominate as English-Language Learner Population Grows Stamford, CT, June 21, 2019 — More than 10% of the U.S. K-12 student population is classified as English-language learners, with 4.9 million students in that category in the 2016-2017 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“Looking at the top 10 languages being spoken in the households where English-language learners are being raised, Spanish speakers dominate as they account for more than three-quarters of ELLS and 7.7% of all K-12 public school students,” said Karen Meaney, a senior analyst in Simba Information’s Education Group and primary editor of that group’s new report PreK-12 Enrollment & Demographics, 2019-2020.

“Beyond the top ten ELL groups, there is some explosive growth,” Meaney said. “For example, the number of students whose home language was Swahili soared 41.4% from 8,480 in fall 2015 to 11,994 in fall 2016.” Meanwhile, some large districts report more than 100 languages spoken.

PreK-12 Enrollment & Demographics, 2019-2020 provides information on overall student enrollment in PreK-12 schools in the U.S., projected enrollment changes and data breakouts by state and for key subgroups.

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