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Graduation outcomes of students who entered New York City public schools in grade 5 or 6 as English learner students

by Michael Kieffer and Caroline Parker

This longitudinal study analyzes high school graduation outcomes of students who entered New York City public schools in grade 5 or 6 as English learner students. It extends the work of Kieffer and Parker (2016) by investigating the high school graduation rates and the types of diploma earned by the 1,734 students who entered New York City public schools (either from another country or from another school system in the United States) in grades 5 and 6 in the 2003/04 school year (the first year after implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act) and who were classified as English learner students, regardless of whether they were subsequently reclassified.1 The study followed two cohorts through two years after their expected graduation year (that is, through 2011/12 for the grade 5 cohort and 2012/13 for the grade 6 cohort. The study explores differences between long-term and short-term English learner students. Of the 1,734 students in the sample, 718 (41.4 percent) were identified as long-term English learner students and 1,016 (58.6 percent) were identified as short-term English learner students. For this study long-term English learner students were defined as students who were classified as English learner students when they entered school in grade 5 or 6 and were not reclassified as former English learner students within six years (through grade 10 for those who entered in grade 5 and through grade 11 for those who entered in grade 6), consistent with the New York City Department of Education (2013) definition. Approximately 44 percent of long-term English learner students who entered in grade 5 and 21 percent who entered in grade 6 were reclassified as former English learner students before their expected year of high school graduation. Short-term English learner students were defined as those who were reclassified as former English learner students within six years. The study addressed three research questions: (1) What percentage of students who entered New York City public schools in grade 5 or 6 as English learner students graduated from high school on time (that is, within four years of entering grade 9)? To what extent does the percentage differ between long-term and short-term English learner students?; (2) What percentage of students who entered New York City public schools in grade 5 or 6 as English learner students graduated one or two years after their expected graduation year (that is, within five years or six years of entering grade 9)? To what extent does the percentage differ between long-term and short-term English learner students?; and (3) What percentage of students who entered New York City public schools in grade 5 or 6 as English learner students received a New York City Local diploma, Regents diploma, or Advanced Regents diploma within six years of entering grade 9? To what extent does the percentage differ between long-term and short-term English learner students? The study found: (1) Approximately 64 percent of students who entered New York City public schools in grade 5 or 6 as English learner students graduated from high school on time; (2) Approximately 15 percent of students who entered New York City public schools in grade 5 or 6 as English learner students graduated one or two years after their expected graduation year, yielding a six-year cohort graduation rate of 79 percent; and (3) Among students who entered New York City public schools in grade 5 or 6 as English learner students, approximately 41 percent earned a Regents diploma, 19 percent earned a Local diploma, and 19 percent earned an Advanced Regents diploma. The following are appended: (1) Diploma requirements in New York State; and (2) Data and methodology.


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