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Mobility for Arizona's ELLs is Higher Than for Other Students

More than a quarter of Arizona's students changed schools over a four-year period, but the state's English-language learners experienced more mobility than other students, a report released this week by the Institute of Education Sciences says. But the gap in mobility between ELLs and other students narrowed over the four years that the study was conducted, from the 2004-05 school year to the 2007-08 school year.

For ELLs, the mobility rate declined from 31.3 percent to 25.9 percent during that period, while for all other students the decline was from 27.7 to 25.0 percent. The study included in the category of ELLs all students who were classified at any time during the four-year period as having limited proficiency in English.

News reports that some immigrant families with undocumented members have left Arizona for other states because of the state's new immigration-enforcement law make me wonder if the gap in mobility rates between ELLs and non-ELLs might have widened again since the last school year that was examined in the study.

The study says the highest mobility rate for ELLs is in high school. More than a third (34.9 percent) moved from one school to another during the 2004-05 school year and 28.4 percent changed schools during the 2007-08 school year.

Mobility is important, the study points out, because it is associated with lower student achievement. The authors write that research shows ELLs benefit from a coherent plan of instruction. They add that it might be hard for ELLs to get that if they are on the move.

The authors note that little research has focused on understanding the mobility of ELLs.

I agree. This is the first study I've seen on this topic. The report was prepared by the Regional Educational Laboratory West, which is administered by WestEd.

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