Dr. Helyn Kim
The Policies, Practices, and Programs to Support English Learners topic supports research that considers how policies, practices, programs, and other resources can be leveraged to improve education outcomes, reduce the academic achievement gap, and address inequities in education for English Learners (ELs).
IES uses the term English Learner to encompass individuals whose home language is not English and whose English language proficiency hinders their ability to meet learning and achievement expectations for their level of schooling. ELs are a large and growing subgroup within the US K–12 population. ELs participate in US education at all levels, including about 5 million students in the K–12 system and over 1 million in postsecondary institutions. Under Civil Rights legislation, they are also a protected subgroup entitled to special services to ensure they are not denied educational opportunities on the basis of their language or national origin.
A topic area focused on English learners was established in fiscal year 2010 to draw more attention to the unique needs of ELs and the importance of research focused specifically on this population. The EL population is diverse in terms of home language and proficiency, English language proficiency, age of entry in U.S. schools, and school experiences like language of instruction and policies guiding EL identification and reclassification. ELs come from many different countries of origin, with unique life experiences, cultures, and skills that can be a strength and an asset for their education and future careers. Despite these potential benefits, ELs also face many challenges, such as having to learn English while simultaneously learning academic content.
See the English Learners topic page to learn more about IES initiatives in this area.