Thursday, March 28, 2013


Language and Dropouts

"The English-Learner Dropout Dilemma: Multiple Risks and Multiple Resources"

By Lesli A. Maxwell, EdWeek Report Roundup  |

English-Learner Parents

"English Language Learners and Parental Involvement"

By Alyssa Morones,  EdWeek Report Roundup  |

March 26, 2013  ::  English-language learners are twice as likely to drop out of school as their peers who are either native English speakers or former ELLs who have become fluent in the language, concludes a report by the California Dropout Research Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Synthesizing much of the research over the past three decades on the reasons behind the low academic achievement and high dropout rates of English-learners, author Rebecca M. Callahan, an education professor at the University of Texas at Austin, finds that many English-learners are still isolated in English-as-a-second-language programs that focus little, if at all, on academic content. That's the case even though most states and districts will not reclassify a student as fluent in English until he or she has demonstrated proficiency in both language and academic content.

English Learner Dropout Dilemma: Multiple Risks and Multiple Resources

Download: Full Report (60 pgs.)       |       Policy Brief (4 pgs.)

Reference: Callahan, Rebecca M. (2013). The English Learner Dropout Dilemma: Multiple Risks and Multiple Resources.

Abstract:   In the 2008-09 school year, nearly 11 percent of U.S. students in grades K-12 were classified as English learners (EL), and many more were former EL students, no longer identified by their 'limited' English proficiency. This report examines the extent, consequences, causes, and solutions to the dropout crisis among EL students and the extent to which these issues are similar or different among dropouts relative to the general population. Research repeatedly shows that EL students are about twice as likely to drop out as native and fluent English speakers. The social, economic and health consequences of dropping out that threaten the general population likely influence EL students as well. While many of the same factors that produce dropouts in the general population apply to EL students, others are unique: tracking as a result of EL status, access to certified teachers, and a high stakes accountability system. In terms of solutions to the EL dropout dilemma, three main reforms rise to the top of importance: Academic exposure, use of the primary language, and a shift from a deficit to an additive perspective.

March 26, 2013  ::  A recent brief from the National Education Policy Center outlines ways for policymakers, districts, and schools to improve educational opportunities for English-language learners. Those students tend to be concentrated in schools serving low-income populations and lacking adequate instruction or materials—a problem that is exacerbated by communication and cultural barriers between schools and parents, it says.

School-based efforts to strengthen parental involvement could help increase parental efficacy and advocacy, says the brief, written by William Mathis of the NEPC. Improved communication, collaboration with families, and an embrace of community culture, it says, could help alleviate educational challenges for ELLs. Providing parents with avenues to learn English would also help promote ELL parent involvement and encourage parents to read and write with their children at home.

For policymakers, adequacy studies and identified financial inequities in serving ELL students, once reviewed and updated, should be utilized for improved legislation and budget allocations, the brief recommends.


English Language Learners and Parental Involvement

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