Amaya Garciawas quoted in NPR-affiliate WBURabout trends for English learner populations and programs.
Here as elsewhere, most ELL students are clustered in the early grades. Students are expected to be more or less English-proficient by the time they get to high school, says Amaya Garcia, a senior researcher at the D.C.-based New America Foundation.
If you’re still classed as ELL in grades 9 through 12, Garcia says it’s likely that "you’ve just hit a wall" in language acquisition — possibly exacerbated by a learning disability — "or you’re a fairly recent arrival."
So high school ELL students are at particular risk, and the data show that many of them aren't thriving in Massachusetts.
These gaps shouldn’t be surprising, says researcher Garcia. Imagine coming to the United States for the first time as a teenager with little English: "You have to build up a lot of proficiency, and you may be coming from a place where you haven’t received a lot of formal education, so there’s a lot of back content to fill in. It’s not an easy prospect."