States with the highest percentage of ELL students

July 9, 2019
In 2016, more than 1 in 5 public school students in California were identified as English language learners.

Some 4.9 million students—9.6% of the nation's public school students—were identified as English language learners in fall 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Education's "The Condition of Education 2019."

The number of ELL students rose by more than 1 million between 2000 and 2016. In 2000, 3.8 million students were English language learners—8.1 percent of the nation's public school students.

Students who are identified as English language learners are eligible to participate in language assistance programs to help them attain English proficiency.  ELL students are more likely to be from urban areas—they make up 14% of the student body in city school systems, compared with 9.3% in suburban districts, 6.5% in town districts and 3.8% in rural districts.

The percentage of public school students who were ELLs ranged from 0.9% in West Virginia to 20.2% in California.

Here are the states that had the highest percentage of ELL students in 2016.

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