English-language learners lost ground academically in Boston public schools in the three years following passage of a ballot measure that greatly curtailed bilingual education in the state, according to a study by the Maurico Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the Center for Collaborative Education.
The dropout rate in Boston for high school ELLs being served by special programs nearly doubled, to 12 percent, from 2003 to 2006, the years examined by the study. In the same period, the achievement gap between ELLs and native speakers of English widened at every grade level.
In 2003, high school ELLs both in general education classes and in special programs to learn English were less likely to drop out of school than students on average in Boston public schools. But by 2006, the trend was reversed, and both groups of ELLs were more likely than average to drop out.
A version of this article appeared in the April 22, 2009 edition of Education Week