English Learners in Boston Public Schools: Enrollment, Engagement and Academic Outcomes, AY2003-AY2006
In 2002, Massachusetts voters approved a referendum against the continuance of Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) as a method of instruction for English language learners. The study undertaken by the Mauricio Gaston Institute at UMass Boston in collaboration with the Center for Collaborative Education in Boston finds that, in the three years following the implementation of Question 2 in the Boston Public Schools, the identification of students of limited English proficiency declined as did the enrollment in programs for English; the enrollment of English Learners in substantially separate Special Education programs more than doubled; and service options for English Learners narrowed.
The study found that high school drop-out rates among students in programs for English Learners almost doubled and that the proportion of English Learners in middle school who dropped out more than tripled in those three years. Finally, although there have been some gains for English Learners in both ELA and math MCAS pass rates in 4th and 8th grade, gains for English Learners have not matched those of other groups and as a result gaps between English Learners and other BPS populations have widened.