State Summary Report Card (PDF)
Complete State Report Card (PDF)

Performance Categories




California’s fairly low performance in educating its young population could limit the state’s access to a competitive workforce and weaken its economy.

  • Eighth graders perform very poorly in math, science, reading, and writing.

  • Seventy-five percent of Hispanics have a high school credential, compared with 95% of whites.




College opportunities for California residents are only fair.

  • The likelihood of enrolling in college by age 19 is low, but a fairly high percentage of working-age adults are enrolled in higher education.

  • Among young adults, 27% of Hispanics and 35% of blacks are enrolled in college, compared with 45% of whites.



Not Improved

Higher education has become less affordable for students and their families.

  • Poor and working-class families must devote 40% of their income, even after aid, to pay for costs at public four-year colleges.

  • Financial aid to low-income students is low. For every dollar in Pell Grant aid to students, the state spends 56 cents.




California performs poorly in awarding certificates and degrees relative to the number of students enrolled, but those who do attain a bachelor’s degree do so in a timely manner.

  • Sixty-two percent of college students complete a bachelor’s degree within six years.

  • However, only 46% of blacks and 53% of Hispanics graduate within six years, compared with 66% of whites.




A large proportion of residents have a bachelor’s degree, but there are substantial gaps by ethnicity.

  • Ten percent of Hispanics and 22% of blacks have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 40% of whites. This gap between Hispanics and whites is one of the largest in the nation.

  • If all racial/ethnic groups had the same educational attainment and earnings as whites, total annual personal income in the state would be about $170 billion higher.



Like all states, California receives an “Incomplete” in Learning because there is not sufficient data to allow meaningful state-by-state comparisons.


Change Over Time: Key Indicators

The following reflects California’s performance and progress since the early 1990s on several key indicators.


The percentage of young adults in California who earn a high school diploma has increased substantially since the early 1990s. High school completion is below the U.S. average and well below the top-performing states.


College enrollment of young adults in California has improved substantially since the early 1990s. The state is slightly above the national average but below the top states in the percentage of young adults enrolled.

The enrollment of working-age adults, relative to the number of residents without a bachelor’s degree, has declined in California—as it has nationally and in the best-performing states. The percentage attending college in California is higher than the U.S. average but below the top states.


The share of family income, even after financial aid, needed to pay for college has risen substantially. To attend public two-year colleges, students and families in California pay more than the U.S. average. To attend public four-year colleges, they pay the same as the national average, which is more than those in the best performing states pay..


The number of undergraduate credentials and degrees awarded in California, relative to the number of students enrolled, has increased since the early 1990s. However, California is below the U.S. average and the top states on this measure.


The percentage of residents who have a bachelor’s degree has increased. California is above the U.S. average but below the top states.