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The Achievement Progress of English Learner Students in Arizona


To understand the learning trajectories of the growing numbers of English learner students in the West, especially those who struggle to pass state English language arts and math content tests, this study followed three cohorts of English learner students in Arizona over six school years, 2006/07 through 2011/12, to assess their progress in English proficiency and their academic progress in English language arts and math content knowledge. Key findings from this study include: More than 90 percent of Arizona’s English learner students scored at or above the required level for reclassification as fluent English proficient students over a period of six school years. Their cumulative passing rate was highest for the English language proficiency test, followed by academic tests in English language arts and math. English learner students who were eligible for special education services had the lowest passing rates on all three tests. In general, English learner students in higher grades had lower cumulative passing rates on all three tests than students in lower grades. Educators might consider devoting additional attention to improving teaching practices and support services to help the English learner student subgroups with the poorest performance: students in higher grades, students eligible for special education services, students eligible for school lunch programs, and male students.

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September 2015