Publications & Resources

Language-Minority Students’ Cognitive School Readiness and Success in Elementary School

Jun 2006

Lindsay Taggart Rutherford

A significant amount of research treats students who speak a language other than English at home, or language-minority students, as a single demographic group and compares them to students who speak only English at home. If important disparities in early school experiences among language-minority students have been overlooked, then policies aimed at helping them as they begin formal schooling may fall short, as they will not attend to the needs of specific subpopulations. This paper uses data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K) to address this gap in the literature by exploring language-minority students’ experiences with grade retention and special education placement and specifically examining variation among language-minority students based on race, immigrant status and socioeconomic status. Findings indicate that language-minority students are no more likely to be retained than their English-only counterparts, while they are less likely than their English-only counterparts to be placed in special education. Furthermore, there was no variation among language-minority students by race or immigrant status. These findings and their implications for language-minority students are explored in the conclusion.

Rutherford, L. T. (2006). Language-minority students’ cognitive school readiness and success in elementary school (CSE Report 683). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).