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A Descriptive Analysis of Enrollment and Achievement Among English Language Learner Students in Delaware

Region:
Mid-Atlantic
Description:
The number of English language learner (ELL) students in Delaware public schools rose 91.7 percent from 2002/03 to 2008/09, whereas total enrollment increased 7.7 percent. ELL student enrollment increased from 3.0 percent of total student enrollment in 2002/03 to 5.4 percent in 2008/09. These figures are of concern to educators because of the large achievement gaps nationally between ELL and non-ELL students and the need to meet the No Child Left Behind Act goal of bringing all students to proficiency by 2014.

This report describes enrollment and achievement trends between 2002/03 and 2008/09 among ELL students in Delaware public schools. It documents achievement gaps between ELL and non-ELL students in reading and math state assessments in grades 2–10 and in science and social studies assessments in grades 4, 6, 8, and 11. The study's main findings include:
  • ELL students in Delaware spoke 81 languages in 2008/09, up from 60 in 2002/03. In 2008/09, Spanish (spoken by 77.2 percent of ELL students in the state) had the most speakers, followed by Creole (4.2 percent), Chinese (2.0 percent), and Gujarati (1.5 percent). ELL students speaking "other" languages (languages other than the 12 most common in the state) accounted for 7.2 percent of the ELL student population in 2008/09.
  • Between 2005/06 and 2008/09, ELL students' performance in reading increased in grades 3–10 but decreased in grade 2. During this time, ELL students' performance in math increased in grades 3–9, but decreased in grades 2 and 10.
  • Between 2002/03 and 2008/09, ELL students' performance in science increased in all grades studied (grades 4, 6, 8, and 11), and ELL students' performance in social studies increased in grades 4, 6, and 8, but decreased in grade 11.
  • Between 2005/06 and 2008/09, the overall achievement gap in reading between ELL and non-ELL students narrowed in all grades studied except grade 2, where an achievement gap formed and widened. The achievement gap in grade 3 reading narrowed, with ELL students' performance higher than that of non-ELL students in two of the four years studied.
  • Between 2005/06 and 2008/09, the overall achievement gap in math between ELL and non-ELL students narrowed in all grades studied except grades 2, 9, and 10, where the achievement gap widened. In grade 3, ELL students' performance was higher than that of non-ELL students in 2008/09 only.
  • Between 2002/03 and 2008/09, the achievement gap in science and social studies between ELL and non-ELL students narrowed in all grades studied except grade 8, where the achievement gap widened in science, and grade 11, where the achievement gap widened in both science and social studies.
Publication Type:
Issues & Answers
Online Availability:
Publication Date:
April 2012