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

  • County
  • District
  • School
  • Article
  • Summary

About California's Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS)

This article explains California's statewide student data system, its background, purpose, and future enhancements.


The California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) is the statewide system that stores individual-level longitudinal data on students and district/school certificated staff in California’s public schools. Local Education Agencies (LEAs), such as school districts, county offices of education, and independently-reporting charters, use CALPADS to collect, maintain and report information such as: 

  • Student enrollment and demographics
  • Student English language acquisition status data
  • Student program participation data (e.g. eligibility for Free/Reduced price meals)
  • Student course enrollment and course completion, including Career Technical Education (CTE) concentrators and completers
  • Student data related to graduation and dropout rates  
  • Student suspension/expulsion data
  • Student absence summary
  • Certificated staff demographics
  • Teacher assignments
  • Course attributes (e.g. subject, whether or not it meets UC/CSU requirements, etc.)

Student-level data offer powerful information that can be used to better target resources, assistance, and interventions to keep students in school and on track to graduate. CALPADS provides LEAs with:

  • Access to longitudinal data and reports on their own students
  • Immediate access to information on new students, such as the students’ program participation status; assessment scores; and, for English Learners, the student’s English language acquisition status, enabling the LEAs to place students appropriately and to determine whether any assessments are necessary
  • Identification of students who are foster youth and/or homeless so that LEAs can provide those students with appropriate services
  • An efficient means for meeting state and federal reporting requirements

CALPADS is the source of most of the data provided in the Demographics section of the Student Profile on the Ed-Data web site.


CALPADS, which was authorized by SB 1453 (Chapter 1002, Statutes of 2002), was created to enable California to meet federal requirements delineated in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. CALPADS has been operational since 2009.

The cornerstone of CALPADS is the Statewide Student Identifier (SSID). When a student enrolls in a school district, county office, or charter school, a request for an SSID is sent to CALPADS. The student is either assigned a new SSID if this is the student’s first enrollment in a California public school, or the student is matched with records in CALPADS so that the LEA can find the original SSID assigned to the student. Once the LEA obtains a SSID, CALPADS connects the student’s new enrollment with the student’s existing record(s) in CALPADS.

LEA responsibilities include the accurate and timely reporting of demographic, program, enrollment and exit data to CALPADS, and the timely resolution of SSID anomalies with other LEAs. SSID anomalies include students who appear to have multiple SSIDs, two students who appear to share the same SSID, and students whose exit reason and subsequent enrollment appear to be in conflict (e.g. a high school graduate who re-enrolls as a sixth grade student).

The student-level, longitudinal data in CALPADS enables the California Department of Education (CDE) to:

  • Calculate the four-year cohort graduation and dropout rates, more accurate methods for determining graduation and dropout rates
  • Calculate the unduplicated count of English learners, students who are eligible for free/reduced price meals and foster youth used in the Local Control Funding Formula
  • Complete statewide matching for direct certification of students eligible for free or reduced price meals and foster youth
  • Calculate chronic absence rates
  • Assess student achievement over time
  • Efficiently create reports to meet state and federal reporting requirements
  • Create reports as needed to respond to relevant questions
  • Facilitate program evaluation

Through CALPADS, the CDE has transitioned the source of data for various federal and state reports from separate aggregate collections to CALPADS. For example, prior to CALPADS, LEAs reported student demographic data to CDE through a system called the California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS) and LEAs also reported an overlapping set of student information to the Student National Origin Report (SNOR).

Once CALPADS was operational, LEAs reported this data to CALPADS and no longer had to send the same data for CBEDS and SNOR. CALPADS is also the source of data for the Perkins E-1 report of Career Technical Education (CTE) participants, concentrators and completers for LEAs receiving funding under the federal Carl D. Perkins CTE Improvement Act of 2006. This transition of various reports to CALPADS provides for a more efficient reporting mechanism for both LEAs and CDE and prevents discrepancies between reports that occur when the data are reported at different times and in different ways.

County offices of education, schools districts and charter schools report data to CALPADS. Charter schools have the option to report with their authorizing LEA or report independently from their authorizer. A charter school electing to report CALPADS data independent of its authorizing LEA is accountable for meeting all of the reporting requirements of an individual LEA.

All CALPADS data are maintained in compliance with state and federal privacy laws, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Only authorized users may access CALPADS, which uses role-based security. Access to CALPADS not only requires a username and password, but the granting of specific roles to view certain data based on legitimate need.

Aggregate data from CALPADS are posted on the Ed-Data website and CDE’s DataQuest. These sites do not contain personally identifiable student information, such as student names, names of parents or guardians, or student addresses, nor do they link the aggregate data back to specific students. The sites do not and cannot provide a list of students that make up the counts displayed. For example, if a school’s enrollment was 115, neither Ed-Data nor DataQuest could provide users the list of students making up that count. Both sites are secure sites with safeguards to prevent hacking, but in the event one or both of the sites were hacked, those involved could not gain access to student-level information because the sites simply do not contain this information. For more information about student privacy, see

CALPADS & Assessments

CALPADS is the sole source for student demographic, enrollment, and program data for the student test registration system for the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System. Prior to testing, LEAs update student information in CALPADS and the data are automatically pulled from CALPADS and loaded into the test registration system. LEAs enter information about any accommodations or designated supports students need for testing (e.g. essay responses dictated orally) into the test registration system prior to testing. Automatically loading CALPADS data into the test registration system saves the LEAs time as they do not have to report the same data to the assessment vendor and it also improves the quality of the data by preventing the LEA from reporting different data to the assessment vendor.

California English Language Development Test (CELDT) assessment results are loaded into CALPADS following testing so that LEAs can access results for students, including any students who are currently enrolled with that LEA but were tested in another LEA or school and subsequently moved. LEAs use the assessment results on new students to place students in appropriate classes. Thus, if a student’s English language proficiency was assessed at the beginning of the school year and found to be at the beginning proficiency level, and the student moves to a new school in December, the new school can access the results of that assessment in CALPADS preventing retesting and enabling the appropriate placement in an English language development class/group in the new school without delay.

Benefits of CALPADS

CALPADS benefits students, LEAs, and the State.

Students and LEAs benefit as the CALPADS streamlines processes to identify students qualified for certain services and assists in the correct placement of transferring students. For example, through a secure data sharing protocol, CALPADS has functionality to identify students who are automatically eligible to receive free or reduced-price school meals without the parents needing to complete applications. Through another secure data sharing arrangement, CALPADS assists LEAs by identifying foster youth in their student body, enabling schools to provide targeted services to help this high-risk group stay in school. CALPADS also includes assessment data and course completion data to help schools place students who transfer from one California school to another. For example, if an English Learner transfers to another school, the receiving school can access data in CALPADS and use that data to place the student in the appropriate English Language development class.

CALPADS benefits LEAs and the State by providing higher quality data, by providing statewide views of the data, and by making data available for the state's accountability and continuous improvement system. CALPADS includes edits that prevent bad data from coming into the system and keeps LEAs from certifying a data submission that has serious errors, resulting in better data for decision making. CALPADS also makes it possible for LEAs to identify students who appeared to have dropped out of school but actually just enrolled in another LEA without informing the previous district. These LEAs are able to “save” and target dropout recovery resources on students who have truly dropped out. The functionality to identify “lost transfers” provides LEAs and the State with accurate dropout counts and makes it possible to determine statewide how many of students graduate from high school four years after they enter ninth grade. Student absence summary data makes it possible to identify chronically absent students to assist LEAs in their efforts to reduce absenteeism and keep students in school. Chronically absent students are more at risk of dropping out of school so a reduction in chronic absenteeism will positively impact graduation rates. CALPADS discipline data makes it possible to examine suspension and expulsion rates by LEA and by subgroup. Analysis of this data has resulted in a change in state law regarding the reasons students may be suspended, examination of suspension and expulsion procedures, and the development of improved practices focused on keeping students in school facilitating their successful completion of high school. CALPADS is the source of demographic and program information used to determine student groups (foster youth, homeless youth, etc.) included in the California School Dashboard (Dashboard). CALPADS is the primary data source for multiple state indicators in the dashboard, including suspension rate, English learner progress and graduation rate. CALPADS will also be the source for chronic absenteeism when data on that indicator is reported through the dashboard.

Future Directions for CALPADS

The California Department of Education is continuing to assess its data collections and determine data collections that can be transitioned to CALPADS. This transitioning of data collections benefits LEAs in that it prevents them having to report the same data on multiple reports. It also improves data quality since LEAs provide the data once rather than reporting it multiple times and running the risk of making data submission errors or updating the data for one report and not for others.

In the coming years the special education system, CASEMIS, will be transitioned to CALPADS. Special education discipline data has already been transitioned to CALPADS and other special education reports will be sourced from CALPADS in future years.  The Perkins E-2 report will also be transitioned.

Finally, CALPADS provides potential opportunities to link data to preschool and beyond high school, enhancing the state’s ability to examine the outcomes of students with different preschool experiences, or the outcomes of student completing high school and entering postsecondary education. 

For more information on CALPADS, see