E.g., 06/22/2024
E.g., 06/22/2024
The Impacts on English Learners of Key State High School Policies and Graduation Requirements
November 2021

The Impacts on English Learners of Key State High School Policies and Graduation Requirements

Across the United States, students face increasingly high expectations of what they should know and be able to do upon completing high school. However, too few state policies take into consideration how the pathway to graduation may look different for English Learners (ELs), particularly adolescent newcomers who have limited formal education. Many school systems have invested considerable time and energy in improving EL education, but opportunity and achievement gaps persist.

This report discusses key state policy areas relevant to high school completion and how they may have distinct (and at times, unintended) impacts on ELs. Among the topics covered are graduation requirements, newcomer placement, EL program design, and policies that shape the accessibility and quality of educational opportunities for ELs.

The report also outlines opportunities for states to ensure all ELs have access to high-quality learning experiences, while still giving schools the flexibility to respond to local needs and circumstances. “State regulations and guidance,” the author writes, “can provide important guardrails to ensure consistency across districts, while allowing for flexibility to help ELs achieve their educational goals.”

Table of Contents 

1  Introduction

2  EL Diversity and Outcomes

3  The Path to Graduation
A. Graduation Requirements
B. The Increasing Rigor of Pathways to Graduation
C. Graduation Rates and School Accountability
D. Data for Decision-Making

4  Newcomer Placement and EL Programming
A. Intake and Placement
B. Instructional Programs
C. Reclassification of ELs as English Proficient

5  Educational Access and Quality
A. Maximum Age of Compulsory and Free Public Schooling
B. Access to Credit-Bearing and Advanced Courses
C. Teacher and Staff Quality and Training

6  Conclusion