Proportion of English Learners varies widely among school districts

Weekly Fiscal Facts are provided by the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education. The Wisconsin Policy Forum logo can be downloaded here.


As might be expected, the largest numbers of English Learner (EL) students could be found among the state’s largest school districts. In 2018-19, there were 9,013 English Learners in Milwaukee public schools; 5,364 in Madison; 4,552 in Green Bay; 2,517 in Racine; and $2,148 in Kenosha.

The proportion of their students who were ELs ranges widely, however. For example, the 9,013 ELs in Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) made up about 12 percent of the district’s student body. Green Bay Area’s EL student count of 4,552 was about half that of MPS, but it comprised almost a quarter (22.3 percent) of total enrollment.

The three districts with the highest percentage of ELs in 2018-19 were Arcadia, Abbotsford, and Independence—all relatively small districts in which ELs accounted for 30 percent or more of their students. But none of the three received state aid for their EL programs as of the 2016-17 school year (the most recent available).

This information is a service of the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education. Learn more at wispolicyforum.org.