English language learners frequently get blamed for the low performance of many schools. This report considers contextual variables--"such as high student-teacher ratios, high student enrollments and high levels of students who live in poverty or near poverty"--as what's driving low achievement. To this, I would add the absence of well-funded, staffed and designed bilingual or dual education programs that we know help reduce the gap.
Lagging Scores of English Language Learners Partly Explained By Their Concentration in Low-Performing Schools, New Report Finds
A Pew Hispanic report released today examines the role of schools in the achievement gap of the nation's four million English language learner public school students. Analyzing newly available standardized test data, the report finds that students designated as English language learners (ELL) tend to go to public schools with low standardized test scores.
However, these low levels of assessed proficiency are not solely attributable to poor achievement by ELL students. These same schools report poor achievement by other major student groups as well, and have a set of characteristics associated generally with poor standardized test performance-such as high student-teacher ratios, high student enrollments and high levels of students who live in poverty or near poverty. When ELL students are not isolated in these low-achieving schools, their gap in test score results is considerably narrower.