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Pew Hispanic Center: ELLs Are Among Those Farthest Behind

A report released yesterday by the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center shows that the test scores of English-language learners will have to be improved A WHOLE LOT, if that group of students is to meet federal mandates under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Richard Fry, a senior research associate for the center, who authored the report, notes that while he examined test scores from the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress, rather than those from the various state standardized tests used for accountability under NCLB, the scores on the nationwide test give a good indication of where ELLs stand.

In math, for instance, 48 percent of such students in 4th grade scored "below basic" on the NAEP in contrast with 11 percent of white students who did so. The gap was much larger between ELLs and white students in 8th grade. In math, 71 percent of ELLs in that grade scored "below basic" in math while 21 percent of white 8th graders had that same score in math.

The achievement gap for reading between ELLs and white students is also large. Seventy-three percent of 4th-grade ELLs and 71 percent of 8th-grade ELLs scored "below basic" in reading. By contrast, only 25 percent of white students in 4th grade and 19 percent of such students in 8th grade scored "below basic" in that subject.

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