Time Spent in English- Proficiency Programs

March 07, 2001 1 min read

The length of time students with limited English skills should spend in English-proficiency programs has become a hotly contested political issue, as well as an academic one. A General Accounting Office report concludes it can take from four to eight years for students to develop the language skills needed to perform on a par with native English-speakers.

Percentage of students who spent...

1 year
or less

2 years
or less

3 years
or less

4 years
or less

5 years
or less

Arizona 12.0 24.0 36.0 49.0 59.0
Florida 10.0 23.0 39.0 66.0 79.0
Illinois 0.1 23.0 40.0 67.0 86.0
New Jersey 29.0 57.0 78.0 90.0 *
Texas 10.0 21.0 37.0 57.0 **
Washington 17.0 36.0 57.0 77.0 87.0

NOTES: *Ten percent of New Jersey LEP students who exited a program in the 1998-99 academic year had been enrolled in language-assistance programs for five years or more. The percentage staying in programs five years or less cannot be determined.

**Data based on a five-year study of LEP students in public schools from 1992-93 to 1996-97. The percentage of students staying beyond five years cannot be determined.

SOURCE: U.S. General Accounting Office, 2001.

A version of this article appeared in the March 07, 2001 edition of Education Week as Time Spent in English- Proficiency Programs