Recent high school immigrants’ program placement and academic performance in Texas schools : what do we know and what do we need to know
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The study explored the relationship between program placement policies regarding the education of recently immigrated students and selected outcomes for these newcomers in urban high schools located in Texas under the implementation of NCLB. In an effort to better understand the impact of such policies on immigrant learning opportunities, this research investigated how newcomers’ identification and promotion, which were based upon English language proficiency testing, affected recent immigrant students’ program placement, course completion and educational achievement. In addition, this study used secondary data analysis to examine how newcomers’ background characteristics were associated with their grade retention rates. Finally, the relationship between students’ background characteristics and newcomers’ academic performance in language arts and mathematics subject areas were examined. This research attempted to answer questions including: 1) How do newly arrived youth students enrolled in newcomer programs, schools, and those enrolled in traditional English as a Second Language (ESL) programs differ with regard to characteristics, such as race, gender, socioeconomic status (SES), course completion, grade retention, and language spoken at home?, 2) How do the differences in characteristics of newly arrived youth students relate to grade retention?, 3) What is the relationship between the growth in academic achievement and newly arrived youth students’ demographic characteristics while enrolled in different programs?, and 4) What kinds of learning opportunities and educational supports are provided by traditional ESL programs, newcomer programs, and newcomer schools for newly arrived youth students in northern and central Texas? Findings indicated newly arrived immigrant adolescents are consistently the most disadvantaged group due to their later start age with limited English proficiency facing a new culture. In general, recently arrived immigrant youths appear to benefit more from teachers with ESL certification as well as even much more experience for serving immigrant adolescents in a safe and caring environment, newcomer schools.