Fiscal, Demographic, and Performance Data on California’s K-12 Schools

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How Students Are Counted

Different pupil counts serve different purposes. Learn more about Census-Day Enrollment vs. Cumulative Enrollment vs. Average Daily Attendance


School districts collect and report data on students throughout the year. Because students transfer in and out of schools throughout the year, different ways of counting students have been established depending on the purpose and requirements of the data being reported. 

For most of its history, Ed-Data only reported Enrollment and Average Daily Attendance (ADA). The enrollment counts on Ed-Data were collected and reported by districts to the states on the first Wednesday in October, which is also known as Census Day or Information Day. 

However, as part of its more detailed data collection and reporting on suspension, expulsion and chronic absenteeism rates, the California Department of Education has developed a new end-of-year enrollment count known as Cumulative Enrollment. We have now added a Cumulative Enrollment graph on Ed-Data. 

There are important differences in the Census Day Enrollment and the Cumulative Enrollment, both in terms of which students are counted and where each type of enrollment is used. Census-day enrollment and Cumulative enrollment cannot be interchanged. To distinguish between the two, we have changed the name of of the original Enrollment graph on Ed-Data to "Census Day Enrollment," while the new graph is called "Cumulative Enrollment." 

On Ed-Data, you will now find these three student counts: 

Census Day Enrollment counts, which are taken on the first Wednesday in October (known as Census Day or Information Day), establish a baseline count of the students attending a particular school along with important demographic information such as race/ethnicity, whether the students are English learners, how many qualify for free and reduced-price meals, and much more. Most of the student demographic and performance data reported by the state and available on Ed-Data is based on Census Day enrollment. This includes English learner data, teacher-pupil counts, and more. Prior to 2020-21, the Census Day enrollment did not include short-term enrollments, such as students who were enrolled for fewer than 30 days. But beginning with the 2020-21 school year, the Census Day enrollment graphs do include short-term enrollments, making it better aligned with other data sets such as Free/reduced-price meal eligibility, which have always included short-term enrollment.

This is the first enrollment count posted on Ed-Data for each new school year. 

Cumulative Enrollment, is collected at the end of the year and is currently only used for the following data sets: Chronic Absenteeism and Suspensions and Expulsions. Cumulative enrollment consists of the total number of unduplicated primary and short-term enrollments within the academic year (July 1 to June 30), even if the student was enrolled only for one day and regardless of whether the student is enrolled multiple times within a school or district.

Cumulative enrollment is calculated at each reporting level (e.g., school, district, county, and state) and therefore is not necessarily additive from one reporting level to the next. For example, if a student is enrolled in multiple schools within a district during the academic year, they are counted once at each school, but only once in the district’s cumulative enrollment. Cumulative enrollment is usually released with discipline and chronic absenteeism data. 

Average Daily Attendance, or ADA, is the count used to apportion funding for schools and is based not directly on the number of students enrolled but rather on the days of school attended by those students. To facilitate comparisons, the financial data on Ed-Data are reported in terms of "dollars per ADA." as well as in total dollars. ADA is the total number of days of student attendance divided by the total number of days taught. A student attending every school day would equal one ADA. Generally, ADA is lower than enrollment due to such factors as transience, dropouts, and illness. 

ADA is currently only reported at the state and district level. The ADA reported on Ed-Data comes from the California Department of Education's Current Expense of Education calculation. Note: District-level ADA may include attendance for some charter schools but not others. The ADA graph in the student demographics section is updated when we load school finance data, usually in March. 

Please remember: Because they are collected at different times and can reflect different student populations, Census Day Enrollment, Cumulative Enrollment and Average Daily Attendance (ADA) must not be used interchangeably. 

Where to find the data

All three of the enrollment counts can be found at the top of the Demographics section of the Student tab:

image of enrollment and ADA graphs

On both the Census Day Enrollment and Cumulative Enrollment graphs, you can use the menus above the graph to drill in for more detailed data by race/ethnicity, gender, grade and for selected student groups such as foster youth, migrant and homeless students, English learners, socioeconomically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities. The Cumulative Enrollment graph includes an additional filter that enables you to further drill in by whether the students attend charter schools or traditional district schools. 

ADA does not include any student group data and is available only at the state and district level.