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English-Language Learners

"To Be or Not to Be EL: An Examination of the Impact of Classifying Students as English-Learners"

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A University of Oregon study has found that designating early-elementary students who are close to being proficient in English as English-language learners may actually do more harm than good.

Ilana Umansky, an assistant professor in the university's college of education, argues that kindergartners who score at or just above the threshold for ELL services are often indistinguishable from those who score just below. However, students on the cusp who are identified as English-learners end up scoring significantly lower on math and English/language arts tests in grades 2-10, Umansky's research determines.

The author blames the students' classification as English-learners, and the diminished teacher expectations and social stigma tied to that status, for the lower test scores.

The study is based on data from a large urban district in California.

Vol. 36, Issue 07, Page 5

Published in Print: October 5, 2016, as English-Language Learners
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