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Newcomers in New York City

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Recently, I reported to you that 45.5 percent of the 49,318 English-language learners in grades 8-12 in New York City are newcomers. The school district calls ELLs "newcomers" if they have been receiving ELL services for less than three years. The statistic is important because it indicates that the city receives, in the upper grades, a significant number of students who likely are starting with little or no English.

I promised to give a fuller picture and get the data for ELLs in grades K-7 as well.

This morning, the New York City Department of Education provided it. It turns out that 66 percent of the city's 99,083 English-language learners who are in grades K-7 are considered to be newcomers. If we put all the grades together, 59 percent of the city's 148,401 ELLs are newcomers.

Let me note that the overall average for newcomers in grades K-12 is heavily weighted toward grades K-2 because virtually none of those students have been in school long enough to get more than three years of ELL services. If we drop grades K-2 from the average, we get a more meaningful picture of how many students arriving in New York City are likely to have started school in some other country. In grades 3-12, it turns out that 41 percent of the city's ELLs are newcomers.

Here's the break down for ELLs who are newcomers by grade for grades K-7. As the grade gets higher, the number of ELLs decreases. That's the way it should be because, presumably, students are learning English and moving into mainstream classes. (For a break down of newcomers in grades 8-12, see my earlier post, "The Graduation Rate for ELLs in the Big Apple.")

15,473 newcomers
100% of 15,474 ELLs in that grade

Grade 1
99.9%of 16,762 ELLs

Grade 2
90.9% of 15,106 ELLs

Grade 3
37.4%of 12,992 ELLs

Grade 4
33.4% of 11,596 ELLs

Grade 5
36.8% of 9,872 ELLs

Grade 6
40.6% of 8,543 ELLs

Grade 7
41.7% of 8,738 ELLs

Now I'm curious what proportion of ELLs are newcomers in some other large urban districts such as Los Angeles and Chicago.

1 Comment

It's very exciting and wonderful to work with students learning English. Students who have been taught to read and write in their native language stand a better chance of learning English well and maintaining that ability. I am not sure if you are saying that it is a handicap to come at an older age or not, but I get that feeling. It is far better to have a student who's first language is well developed even in speaking and listening ability. Younger kids come with a disadvantage that they may never get a chance to learn to read and write in their native language first and even the speaking/ listening ability can be limited. They tend to show up with difficulties in learning how to read or excelling in school work by the late elementary grades or middle school. They can also end up in quandary where neither English or the native language is proficient.

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