« With More Exposure to Science, English-Learners' Achievement Soared | Main | As Trump Takes Office, Educators Renew Call to Protect DREAMers »

Spanish-Speaking Students Face Hurdles With Advanced Coursework

Spanish-speaking English-language learners in Washington state enroll in half as many advanced courses per year as other ELLs, and earn lower grades in those classes, a new Regional Education Laboratory Northwest study found.

The study also found that the state's Spanish-speaking students, whether they are ELLs or already English proficient, are less likely to take advanced coursework, such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and dual-enrollment classes, than students who speak other languages or only English. In fact, bilingual students whose primary or home language is not Spanish take more advanced courses on average than native English speakers do.Washington State ELL Capture.PNG

The researchers point out that schools with large Spanish-speaking populations are more likely to have higher student poverty rates, higher student-teacher ratios, and lower average student test scores. The stark disparities in advanced course enrollment and performance do disappear when comparing students who have similar grade point averages and test scores in the prior school year.

"These findings reinforce the understanding that language minority students are not a homogenous group and underline the importance of not applying a 'one size fits all' approach to educating English-learner students," Havala Hanson, the study's lead author, said in a statement.

Based on the findings, the study authors recommended that Washington state do more to monitor the academic progress of English-learners and identify groups, such as Spanish-speakers, that struggle more than others to better understand the challenges they face. Spanish is the native language of roughly two-thirds of the state's ELLs.

The report complements the findings of a 2016 REL Northwest study that examined why current and former English-learners in the state took fewer advanced courses and had fewer advanced courses offered at their schools than did native English-speaking students.

Here's a look at the latest report:

   REL ELL Washington State Study by corey_c_mitchell on Scribd

Related Stories

Study: Current, Former ELLs Take Fewer Advanced, College-Prep Classes

ELLs Less Likely to Take Advanced Math and Science

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments

  • Charles: ELLs in our state ARE required to take State standardized read more
  • Melissa: Maybe I'm just becoming jaded, but this feels to me read more
  • Anonymous: Are you kidding me....UNO is an organizaion that literally destroys read more
  • Meg Baker: Are any schools using ACCESS scores for purposes other than read more
  • Dr. Mendoza: This is great news i must say. Hopefully this DREAM read more