Demographics of California and
Four Comparison States

To understand California's performance, we compared California scores to the scores of four states with similar population characteristics. While this limits the data available to measure school success, the performance of other states provides an Understanding of California's relative success in educating its children.

We chose Arizona, Florida, New York, and Texas as our comparison states because the populations of these states are ethnically and linguistically diverse, like California. Texas is the state most similar to California. New York, while not a "sunbelt" state, has a large inner-city population of students similar to populations in some California cities. Arizona, our neighbor, is least like California of the four states. As our neighbor, however, California competes with Arizona for business expansion and commerce.

fig 01

Figure 1

  • Compared to other states, students in California and Texas are more likely to be nonwhite and much more likely to speak a language other than English at home.
  • California's percent of adults over 25 years without a high school diploma and percent of children living in poverty are close to national averages.
  • California's per-pupil education expenditures for 1991-92 are below national average expenditures. Three of the four comparison states spend more than California and one spends less.
  • The data in this figure (fig. 1) are from 1990, except for data on nonwhite students (1986), and expenditures (1991-92).

fig 02

Figure 2

  • In 1990, 57 percent of California's total population was white, while 46 percent of its school-age population (ages 5 to 17) was white.
  • Hispanics constituted 26 percent of the total population and 34 percent of school-age children.

Content Contact:
Candy Friedly
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Institute for Education Reform
California State University, Sacramento
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Last Updated: February, 1994

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