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CalSTRS reports 27.2% net investment return for fiscal year 2020–21

Historic fund performance exceeds 30-year return assumption and sets an all-time record

News release | Rebecca Forée

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (July 26, 2021) — The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) today announced a 27.2% net return on investments for the 2020–21 fiscal year, a record high that far exceeded the investment assumption of 7.0%. Growth was driven by strong performance across all markets, despite the global pandemic. As of June 30, 2021, the total fund value was $308.6 billion—double the value from just 10 years ago.

“We’ve built our portfolio for long-term performance, but this year’s results were nothing short of spectacular.” - Christopher J. Ailman, CalSTRS Chief Investment Officer

“This year’s record-breaking investment performance is a testament to the long-term sustainability of a pension fund managed by a dedicated investment team and a committed Teachers’ Retirement Board,” said Chief Executive Officer Cassandra Lichnock. “The fiscal-year returns exceeded all expectations. They also offer another measure of how we’re delivering on our promise to provide California’s hard-working teachers and their families with a secure retirement.”

CalSTRS is a long-term investor with a goal of achieving an average return of 7.0% over many years to meet pension obligations.

The performance of the fund over 30-year, 20-year, 10-year, 5-year, 3-year and 1-year periods are all above the 7.0% return assumption at 8.6%, 7.6%, 9.7%, 11.8%, 12.2% and 27.2%, respectively.

CalSTRS Investment Fund Performance bar chart


“We’ve built our portfolio for long-term performance, but this year’s results were nothing short of spectacular,” said Chief Investment Officer Christopher J. Ailman. “These are record-breaking numbers—the highest returns we’ve seen since the late 1980s. Positive fund performances like this will help ensure we have a strong and reliable funding source for our educators and their beneficiaries for years to come.”

CalSTRS Fiscal Year 2020–21 Returns (Net of Fees)

CalSTRS asset class/ strategy10-year % return5-year % return3-year % returnFiscal year 2020-21 % returnFiscal year 2020-21 custom benchmark % returnFiscal year 2020-21 over/ under performance (%)
Public equity11.315.114.841.841.20.6
Private equity*13.717.518.851.947.84.1
Real estate*
Inflation sensitive5.88.48.218144
Risk mitigating strategies^n/a2.
Innovative strategies3.87.35.911.75.66.1
Fixed income4.13.861.20.40.8
Total fund performance9.711.812.

* Asset valuations and benchmark returns lag by one quarter.
^ New strategies less than 10 years​.

As of June 30, 2021, the CalSTRS Investment portfolio holdings were 49.7% in U.S. and Non-U.S. stocks (Public Equity); 12.3% in Real Estate; 10.4% in Fixed Income; 8.6% in Risk Mitigating Strategies; 12.0% in Private Equity; 3.7% in Inflation Sensitive; 0.5% in Innovative Strategies; and 2.8% in Strategic Overlay and Cash.

Watch CIO Christopher J. Ailman explain this year’s historical numbers.

Media contact

Rebecca Forée
Phone: 916-414-1440
M-F, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. PDT

About CalSTRS

CalSTRS provides a secure retirement to more than 975,000 members whose CalSTRS-covered service is not eligible for Social Security participation. In 2019–20, members retired on average after more than 24 years in the classroom with a monthly benefit of approximately $4,614. Established in 1913, CalSTRS is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world with $308.6 billion in assets under management as of June 30, 2021. CalSTRS demonstrates its strong commitment to long-term corporate sustainability principles in its annual Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Report. For more information, visit