Huge achievement gaps at the middle and high school level in particular show need for changes in policy, teacher training and evaluation

San Antonio (May 21, 2009) – In Texas, English language learners in middle and high school drop out at twice the rate of the larger student population. They are retained at rates consistently double that of their peers. And they perform worse then their peers by a margin of 40 percent or more on the TAKS. Nationally, there are significant gaps in achievement between English language learners and non-ELL students. As in
Texas , the gap is most striking at the middle school and high school level.

The Intercultural Development Research Association released a policy update today on the status of education of English language learners nationally and, specifically, in
Texas .  Education of English Language Learners in U.S. and Texas Schools – Where We Are, What We Have Learned and Where We Need to Go from Here – A 2009 Update identifies improvements that are needed at the federal, state and local levels. These include:

  • More enlightened policies that ensure ELL students are appropriately identified, assessed and placed;
  • More effective instructional programs that are truly responsive to the unique needs of ELL students;
  • Better professional development that ensures that teachers and others providing instruction and related support services acquire the skills and competencies required for successful instructional delivery;
  • More effective program monitoring and evaluation services that identify effective efforts, inform improvements of those programs meeting with mixed results, and eliminate strategies deemed ineffective; and
  • Increased and more equitable targeted funding that is based on cost of services needed.

In the summer of 2008, a federal judge ruled that existing
Texas elementary level programs were in need of improvement. Though
Texas ’ elementary level bilingual education was reflecting some progress in closing achievement gaps among racial and ethnic groups, current English as a second language programs in middle schools and high schools were deemed a failure. The state was ordered to revamp its program at the secondary level.

“The State of Texas is appealing the decision, but the bottom line is this: schools are responsible for the education of children – for all children, be they Black, Brown, White, poor, rich, female, male, disabled, non-disabled, English-speaking or not.,” stated Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President. “The current status of English language learner education at the secondary level is unacceptable.”

In addition to research findings, this IDRA publication lists recommendations for action. Education of English Language Learners in U.S. and Texas Schools – Where We Are, What We Have Learned and Where We Need to Go from Here – A 2009 Update and related news are available free online at:

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Contact: Christie L. Goodman , APR, at IDRA, 210-444-1710;