Multilingual students have improved in academic achievement since 2003

June 12, 2018, New York University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Multilingual students, who speak a language or more than one language other than English at home, have improved in reading and math achievement substantially since 2003, finds a new study published in Educational Researcher by Michael J. Kieffer, associate professor of literacy education at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

This new research debunks a common myth that multilingual students and English Learners have made little progress in in recent years, and that U.S. schools continue to fail these students.

"Educators and policymakers have been misled by traditional ways of looking at achievement data for English learners," said Kieffer. "When we look at the broader population of multilingual students, we uncover remarkable progress."

Kieffer and the study's co-author, Karen D. Thompson of Oregon State University, analyzed National Assessment of Educational Progress data from 2003 to 2015. The data demonstrated that although all students' scores improved, multilingual students' scores improved two to three times more than monolingual students scores in both subjects in grades four and eight. There is little evidence that these trends can be explained by cohort changes in racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, or regional composition.

The research also demonstrates that multilingual students are about one-third to one-half of a grade level closer to their monolingual peers in 2015 than they were in 2003. The data cannot identify the specific sources for the change in , but suggests that a bundle of policy changes which occurred between 2003 and 2015 may have moved schools in the right direction in serving multilingual students.

"Despite the dominant perception that these students have made little academic progress in recent years, our findings indicate there is real evidence of progress for this population," said Thompson, the study's co-author and an assistant professor in OSU's College of Education. "Students are showing what they know."

Explore further: ESL students with special needs fail to get language instruction, study finds

Related Stories

Teacher racial bias matters more for students of color

May 18, 2017

English and math teachers underestimate the academic abilities of students of color, which in turn has an impact on students' grades and academic expectations, finds a new study by NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, ...

Recommended for you

In the gaping mouth of ancient crocodiles

June 18, 2018

The mouth of today's crocodilians inspires fear and awe, with their wide gape and the greatest known bite force in the vertebrate animal kingdom. However, this apex predator of today and its modus of attack (its mouth) had ...

Secrets of extinct cow with face like a bulldog revealed

June 15, 2018

An international team of scientists have used the latest genetic and anatomical techniques to study the remains of a cow with a short face like a bulldog that fascinated Charles Darwin when he first saw it in Argentina 180 ...

Ancient mammal ancestor found and identified in China

June 14, 2018

A team of researchers from China and the U.S. has identified a new ancient mammal ancestor recently found in a part of China. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes the creature, which they have ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.