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Interactive Map: ELL Population Growth by State


ELL population growth map

The most recent national data indicates that 9.3% of public students in the U.S. are participating in English language learner (ELL) programs. That percentage is up from 8.8% in 2004. The data keeps telling us that the ELL population is on the rise but what does that mean specifically for your state and unique education community?

Check out this interactive map for a glimpse of how your state’s ELL population growth compares to that of other states.

Your State’s ELL Data

Scroll over your state below to see:

  • How the number of ELL students in your state has changed over time
  • The percentage of students participating in school ELL programs in your state
  • How that percentage has increased or decreased in recent years
  • Changes to ELL populations in other states


Source for data: U.S. Department of Education. Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. Number and percentage of public school students participating in programs for English language learners, by state: Selected years, 2003-04 through 2013-14.


ELL Population Growth by Numbers

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the average number of public school students participating in ELL programs at school has been steadily increasing since 2010, after a brief decrease in the 2009-2010 school year. Western states have the largest share of ELL students in the nation.[1] California has the most ELL students, followed by Texas and then Florida. According to NPR, about 1 out of every 10 public school students in the US is an ELL student.[2]

In the 2014 – 2015 school year, a higher percentage of public school students in lower grades than in upper grades were ELL students.[3] As those students continue to make their way through elementary, middle and high school, more skilled ELL teachers will be needed — but in 2016, 32 states reported an inefficient number of teachers for ELL students.[4]

How Can You Address the Rising Number of ELL Students?

As the number of ELL students increases and the number of ELL teachers decreases, all areas of the curriculum are impacted, and effective coteaching and collaboration in support of ELL students becomes even more important. Research has shown that teamwork in this area can be disruptive to teachers’ routines, making it difficult to work together productively in and outside of the classroom.[5]

Having tools that streamline and enhance collaboration can help delineate the roles of individual teachers working with the same ELL students — this can help teachers and other specialists work together more effectively, establish a practical routine, identify instructional focus and create more detailed learning objectives.


[1] Ruiz Soto, A. G., Hooker, S., and Batalova, J. (2015). States and Districts with the Highest Number and Share of English Language Learners. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.

[2] Sanchez, C. (2017). English Language Learners: How Your State Is Doing. National Public Radio.

[3] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2017). The Condition of Education 2017 (2017-144), English Language Learners in Public Schools.

[4] Sanchez, C. (2017). English Language Learners: How Your State Is Doing. National Public Radio.

[5]Peercy, M. M., Ditter, M., and Destefano, M. (2017).“We Need More Consistency”: Negotiating the Division of Labor in ESOL-Mainstream Teacher Collaboration. TESOL Journal.

Danielle Simbajon

Danielle is part of the global, award-winning content team at Frontline Education. She graduated from Emerson College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Writing, Literature and Publishing, and has developed content to empower the education community for over 10 years.