The biggest achievement gap: Students with limited English proficiency vs. everyone else

Print More

The biggest achievement gap in Connecticut isn’t between any two ethnic or racial groups. Rather, it’s between students with limited English proficiency — and everyone else.

Eighty-five percent of all twelfth graders in Connecticut graduated high school in 2011-12, compared with 63 percent of students with limited English proficiency — a 22 percentage-point gap. About 91 percent of white students graduated that year — 28 percentage points higher than students with limited English proficiency.

(Updated data is available for the state, but this was the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, which lets us compare Connecticut numbers with nationwide data.)

The data is broken down by racial and ethnic groups, as well as students with disabilities and ones who are economically disadvantaged.

Compared to other states, Connecticut is in the middle of the pack when it comes to the graduation gap between all students and those with limited English proficiency.

But with test scores, it’s a different story.

This data separates out English Languages Learners and non-English Language Learners by state — and Connecticut has among the highest achievement gaps between those two groups:

  • For eighth-grade math, Connecticut has the largest performance gap between those two groups.
  • It has the second largest gap for eighth-grade reading for those two groups.
  • For fourth-graders, Connecticut has one of the 10 highest gaps for both math and reading.

Connecticut also has the largest gap between white and Hispanic students for fourth-grade math and the second-largest for eighth-grade math. It is also in the top half in these subjects when it comes to gaps between black students and white students.

But English Language Learners still perform worse than all individual ethnic groups in Connecticut, and nationwide.

And this population is growing.

In 2002, there were about 22,800 ELL students in Connecticut; in 2012, there were about 30,300; in the current school year, there were about 35,900. Meanwhile, the number of ELL instructors has been shrinking:

For more on this issue, read today’s Connecticut Mirror, where reporter Jacqueline Rabe Thomas explores the current climate for English Language Learners.

What do you think?

  • Rebecca Hedreen

    “Eighty-five percent of all students in Connecticut graduated high school in 2011-12…” Do you mean 85% of 12th graders?

    • alvinschang

      Thanks for pointing that out. I changed the story to clarify that. I suppose first graders don’t often graduate high school.

      • bicyle_commuter

        I thought the questioner was asking if people that dropped out before 12th grade were taken into account (?) in the graduation statistics

        • alvinschang

          Oh gotcha! This looks t whether students have graduated within 6 years of starting, according to the NCES page I linked in the story.

  • Aki Bola

    Who could have predicted that all the illiterate illegals wouldn’t be high achievers. Shocking.