The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) published a blog post authored by our partnership about how Oregon is using the Ever EL category to more accurately capture outcomes for the full group of students who started school classified as English learners. As we explain in the IES blog post, one major reason why the Ever EL category is useful is that at higher grade levels, former ELs far outnumber current ELs. Reporting outcomes for Ever ELs allows us to understand how well schools and districts are serving both groups of students.
In our post, we go into more detail about how analyzing outcomes only for current ELs provides incomplete information. Typically, graduation rates are reported only for current ELs, with former ELs included in the “non-EL” group (as illustrated by the panel on the bottom left in the figure below). However, this reporting scheme provides no information about how schools are serving the much larger group of former ELs. In fact, former ELs graduate at rates slightly higher than students never classified as ELs (comparing the red and yellow bars in the top panel of the figure below). It is certainly concerning that only about half of current ELs graduate from Oregon high schools within four years. Nonetheless, it is important to recognize that the full group of current and former ELs–in other words, the Ever EL group–is graduating at rates much closer to their peers never classified as ELs (comparing the red and green bars in the bottom right panel below). This information combats deficit narratives about EL students and about how effectively schools are serving this group of students. While there is still much room for improvement in how education agencies meet the needs of current and former EL students, having complete data about outcomes for both groups, by using the Ever EL category, can facilitate better decision making.