A recent Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) report published by our partnership researchers seeks to guide educators on how best to support recently arrived immigrant English learners (RAIELs). RAEILs are a diverse group of students who make up about 1 percent of the overall student population in each state. They include refugee students, migrant students, unaccompanied minors, students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFEs), and students with disabilities. On average, they come from low-income families, with a majority from Spanish-speaking homes. Most RAIELs enter U.S. schools in kindergarten. RAEILs are a critically important, but overlooked and poorly understood student population.

This report examines academic outcomes and experiences for RAEILs in two U.S. states. In both states, RAEILs scored similarly in standardized tests to other English learner students, but far below non-immigrant, native English speakers. Graduation rates for RAEILs ranged from 30 to 60 percent. In the one state where information was available about the services RAEILs receive, the authors found that few received instruction within specialized newcomer programs. Instead, these students tend to receive sheltered content instruction, and separate ELD classes at the middle and high school levels.

The report concludes with a series of policy recommendations, including 1) building data collection systems to learn more about RAIEL students and their progress; 2) provided targeted supports that address a continuum of needs; and 3) create policies specially tailored to supporting these students.

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