March 29, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 9, 2017) — With states given significant leeway under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to satisfy requirements for the education of English Learners (ELs), a new set of fact sheets examining the EL population in select states can help community organizations, policymakers and others better understand the state demographic context and some of the basics regarding EL policies under ESSA and its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Using U.S. Census Bureau and state administrative data, the state fact sheets from the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy look at the demographics of overall native-born and immigrant populations, the number of U.S.-born and immigrant EL students, their home languages and educational outcomes as measured by standardized tests. The fact sheets conclude with a brief overview of accountability mechanisms in individual states that affect ELs under relevant provisions of ESSA and the earlier NCLB.

The states covered are: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington. EL enrollment in these states ranges from a high of 22 percent of all K-12 students in California to a low of 5 percent in Tennessee. The fact sheets span the 10 states with the largest EL enrollment, as well as Massachusetts, Minnesota and Tennessee. Nationally, 4.8 million children enrolled in K-12 during the 2014-2015 school year were ELs, according to the most recent Department of Education data. The vast majority of ELs are U.S. born.

ESSA includes a number of new requirements for the education of ELs, including standardized criteria for identifying EL students and inclusion of English proficiency as a measurement of school quality. In a departure from prior federal law, ESSA pushes back to the states critical decisions such as how quickly schools must improve and how states can intervene with struggling districts.

“ESSA’s shift of key decisions to state government regarding the education of English Learners opens the door to wide variation in how states judge whether these students are making satisfactory progress,” said MPI Senior Fellow for Education Policy Delia Pompa. “At the same time, provisions in the law that require stakeholder engagement create new opportunities for community input into how important decisions related to ELs are made.”

For that reason, the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy is launching a new webpage that will offer resources that can help inform decisions related to ELs, such as how quickly schools must improve and how states can intervene with struggling districts.

The Center also published a new commentary, by Policy Analyst Julie Sugarman, examining what the Trump administration’s policies, in areas ranging from education and immigration to civil rights, could mean for EL and immigrant students.

The ESSA webpage can be accessed here:

Read the fact sheets here:

Read the commentary here:

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels. MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy is a crossroads for elected officials, researchers, state and local agency managers, grassroots leaders, local service providers and others who seek to understand and respond to the challenges and opportunities today’s high rates of immigration create in local communities.

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