Partnership researcher Dr. Karen Thompson, and her collaborator, Dr. Michael J. Kieffer of New York University, found in their study of National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) data, that multilingual students grew substantially in math and reading scores between 2003 and 2015. In fact, these students, at grades 4 and 8, grew at a rate two to three times greater than their monolingual peers. This finding challenges the misperception that multilingual students experience little academic gain.

Multilingual students are defined as students who report a primary home language or languages other than English. There was little evidence that cohort characteristics such as racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, or regional composition influenced these gains. Such promising trends are evident thanks to a research focus of examining scores for students characterized as “Ever English Learners“- this group includes current English learners (ELs), as well as former ELs. Analyses that ignore results for former ELs often fail to detect the gains that multilingual students as a whole are making in schools.

The results of Dr. Thompson and Dr. Kieffer’s study were published in the most recent edition of the Educational Researcher journal. See coverage of these findings in Education Week, U.S. News and World Report, the 74 Million, and The Conversation.

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