Using Data to Decode English-Learner Education
A Washington-based think tank wants to provide a road map to help parents, policymakers, and the public better understand the ins-and-outs of English-language-learner education.
The Migration Policy Institute's "A Guide to Finding and Understanding English Learner Data" explores what type of data that school systems, states, and the federal government collect on English-learners and how the information is used—and how it shouldn't be used.
The 21-page brief digs deep into why and how schools use test data and enrollment counts, but also addresses timely questions, including whether schools have the right to question students about their immigration status.
The brief's author, Julie Sugarman, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute's National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, aims to help the public use data to make sense of the complex world of English-learner education.
With federal education laws—first the No Child Left Behind Act and now the Every Student Succeeds Act—requiring schools and states to publish more data on English-learners, it makes sense to a have a primer on what's out there, Sugarman said.
"It is more important than ever that members of the public understand what types of data are available, where to find them, and how to use them," Sugarman wrote. "But with so much data available online, deciding where to start can be daunting. And without an understanding of how data are collected, analyzed, and reported, users run the risk of coming to incorrect conclusions about what they mean."
The brief is the first in a series of reports on ELLs from the Migration Policy Institute. Before the end of the year, it plans to publish two more briefs: one that identifies and explains the different instructional models, such as sheltered instruction and structured immersion, used to teach English-learners and another focused on the legal cases and laws that govern English-learner education.
Here's a look at the first report:
Related Stories on English-Language Learners