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English Language Development Among American Indian English Learner Students in New Mexico

This REL Southwest report examines progress toward English proficiency among New Mexico’s American Indian English learner students. REL Southwest conducted the study in partnership with the New Mexico Public Education Department and the Southwest English Learners Research Partnership.

New Mexico’s state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) set as a goal that all English learner students will attain English proficiency within five years. To inform efforts toward attaining this goal, REL Southwest and the New Mexico Public Education Department conducted a research study to better understand progress toward English proficiency among the state’s American Indian English learner students. The study examined two statewide cohorts of American Indian students identified as English learner students at initial kindergarten entry in 2013/14 or 2014/15 in New Mexico public schools.

Key findings include:

  • Most of the American Indian English learner students in the sample were not reclassified as English proficient within five years.
  • Most of the American Indian English learner students did not meet grade-level standards on New Mexico state assessments in English language arts and math in grades 3 and 4, regardless of whether the students attained English proficiency and were reclassified within five years.
  • Considerably higher percentages of the American Indian English learner students who were reclassified as English proficient met grade-level standards in both English language arts and math compared with students who were not reclassified.
  • The American Indian English learner students in the sample who attended a school with a bilingual multicultural education program (BMEP) for at least four years were reclassified as English proficient and met grade-level standards on state assessments in English language arts and math at higher rates than students who never attended a school with a BMEP.

Staff at the New Mexico Public Education Department, district and school leaders, and teachers can use the findings from this study to determine how best to support English language development among American Indian English learner students.

Read and download the report: https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/rel/Products/Publication/100721