A longitudinal analysis of academic English proficiency outcomes for adolescent English language learners in the United States.
Journal of Educational Psychology - Vol 102, Iss 2The recent availability of nationally mandated academic English proficiency data on all English language learners (ELLs) from landmark United States federal education legislation now makes it possible to track these learners' academic progress longitudinally. Using 5 waves of 9th through 12th grade academic English proficiency data from 2004–2008 for a statewide cohort of 9th grade ELLs (n = 3,702), I employed growth modeling to fit a multilevel model for change in academic English proficiency (Singer & Willett, 2003). I found that the average ELL in my sample started high school performing at an early intermediate level of academic English proficiency and was not projected to reach the score indicating proficiency until the end of 11th grade. Further, U.S.-born ELLs began high school with significantly higher levels of academic English proficiency than their foreign-born ELL peers, but foreign-born ELLs caught up by the end of high school. However, 60% of high school ELLs were born in the U.S.—implying that large numbers of these students had spent 9 or more years in U.S. schools without developing sufficient academic language needed to perform mainstream academic work in English. The findings emphasize the need for academic language interventions for adolescent ELLs. This study has implications for countries struggling to promote the language development and academic achievement of large numbers of language minority learners. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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