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English Proficiency and the Pandemic: Where Are English Learner Students’ Language and Literacy Skills Now?

Southwest | November 14, 2023


Agenda (203 KB)

Join REL Southwest for a webinar on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on English learner students’ English language proficiency.

Webinar | 3 p.m. Central Time


The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted learning for all students in the United States, but students who are English learners faced particular challenges. These students may have had fewer opportunities to practice speaking English while learning virtually. Data show that English learner students had less access to the Internet and received fewer instructional hours than their English-proficient peers, which could have further impeded their language development and academic progress.

The webinar will open with an introduction from the Office of English Language Acquisition at the U.S. Department of Education about post-pandemic needs and policy implications for English learner students, followed by the presentation of study findings. Researchers then will discuss two recent reports on changes in English learner students’ English language proficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first report, a study by Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest, examined levels of English proficiency before and during the COVID-19 pandemic among English learner students in grades 3–12 in Texas. This study focused on state assessment scores in English listening, speaking, and reading among students who took the test in 2020/21 and compared those scores with a matched cohort of similar students from 2018/19. The second report, a WIDA study, examined data across four school years (2018/19 through 2021/22) from the ACCESS for ELLs Online assessment, which is an annual assessment taken by students identified as English learner students in 41 states. The study looked at the proficiency scores in reading, listening, speaking and writing, and the average growth of English learner students across adjacent academic years.

Following the discussion of findings, practitioners will share what they are seeing in their districts today regarding both bright spots and ongoing needs among English learner students—as well as what has helped their students and educators. The webinar will close with a question-and-answer session during which all presenters and panelists will answer audience questions.

Speakers and Panelists:

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