Children from immigrant families do better academically in English-as-a-second-language classes when they attend schools with a high number of other immigrant students, a study says, but ESL placement has a negative effect on student achievement for English-language learners in schools with small immigrant populations.
In a study published in the March issue of Educational Policy, researchers found that first-generation immigrants at schools with few such children are significantly less likely to enroll in Algebra 2 or chemistry than their immigrant counterparts who are mainstreamed. The mainstreamed immigrant students completed on average at least one of those college-preparatory courses. The effect was significant for first-generation immigrants, but not for the second generation.
In schools with high concentrations of immigrant students, the impact of ESL placement on student achievement was the reverse. The positive effects for second-generation immigrant students were statistically significant on several measures of achievement, including course enrollment, junior-year grade-point average, and the rate of course failure. The researchers looked at a sample of 1,169 students who attended six schools with a large number of ELLS and 514 students who went to 20 schools with few ELLS.
A version of this article appeared in the April 01, 2009 edition of Education Week