Study Finds Academic Benefits for English-Language Learners Who Transition into Mainstream Classrooms
Los Angeles -- Nearly 30 percent of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) students placed in English-language learning programs are not reclassified as proficient by the end of middle school, according to a report released today by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California.
(PressZoom) - Los Angeles -- Nearly 30 percent of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) students placed in English-language learning programs are not reclassified as proficient by the end of middle school, according to a report released today by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California.
The study, "Que Pasa?: Are Englis Language Learning Students Remaining in English Learning Classes Too Long?", details the value of redesignating students as fluent English proficient. Researchers found that reclassification as late as the eighth grade is associated with improved academic outcomes when compared with students who remain in the English-language learning (ELL) programs.
The findings have national significance, because LAUSD is the nation's second largest school district with substantial numbers of English-language learners. The study is also unique because it is based on thousands of student records and seven years of data. Most other studies into the subject take just a snapshot of student outcomes within a short time frame.
The study's authors are Edward Flores, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at USC; Gary Painter, a professor at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development; and Harry Pachon, president of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI) and a professor at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development.
Data for this report was gathered by following and analyzing an entire cohort of non-special education students who started out as sixth graders in 1999 (N=28,714) and who would have graduated in 2005. Of those students, 65 percent were in ELL classes at some point during their schooling.
Researchers determined that about three-fourths of the students who were English-language learners entering the ninth grade had been in U.S. schools eight years or more, and 29.1 percent were still in ELL programs by the beginning of freshman year in high school.
Students who were able to transition into mainstream English classes demonstrated a reduced likelihood of dropping out of school, and higher likelihood of passing the California High School Exit Exam and taking advanced placement courses, according to the study.
Reclassification by fifth grade was associated with SAT9 reading scores that were 10 points higher than those of students who remained in ELL classes. Students who were reclassified as late as eighth grade as "proficient" in English were also more likely to pass their classes and continue in school than the students who stayed in ELL classes, according to the study.
"Implementation of ELL programs needs to be evaluated and improved," said Dr. Harry Pachon, president of TRPI and professor of public policy at USC. "Latino parents want their children to learn English... parents know that full English fluency increases their children's ability to attend college and to have rewarding careers."
In LAUSD, 69.1 percent of students who have been classified at some point of their schooling as English-language learners are native-born U.S. citizens.
"Surprisingly, we have American children outnumbering foreign born students by a ratio of about 2:1 in English-language learning," said Edward Flores, a TRPI researcher who worked on the study.
The following data illustrates the challenge that school districts across the nation face in effectively educating limited-English-speaking students. Nationally, there are more than five million students designated as ELL.
Reclassification Rates of LAUSD English-Language Learner Students
Grade of Reclassification Percentage 3rd grade 4.6% 4th grade 8.9% 5th grade 28.6% 6th grade 13.4% 7th grade 7.2% 8th grade 8.1% Not reclassified by the 8th grade 29.1% Total 100.0%
Source: TRPI analysis of LAUSD official records Note: Only includes non-special education students
The research policy brief is currently available at the Institute's web site at www.trpi.org. To download the policy brief, go to www.trpi.org/PDFs/LAUSD%20Policy%20Brief.pdf.
The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute is an independent nonpartisan policy research organization affiliated with the School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the University of Southern California. TRPI specializes in the key issues affecting Latinos, including technology, education, political participation, access to health care, economic well being, mass media, and immigration. For more information, visit www.trpi.org.
This study was made possible through funding by the U.S. Department of Education and the California Community Foundation.
This news item was released on 2009-10-30. Please make sure to visit the official company or organization web site to learn more about the original release date. See our disclaimer for more information.
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