Ever-English Learners’ K-16 Trajectories: Evidence from Texas
Purpose. Ever-ELs comprise the fastest growing K-12 student population, accounting for one in ten students nationally, and at minimum one in five students in large states like Texas and California. Most of what we know about their college-entrance patterns, however, focuses on youth who were EL-identified during high school, not those who may have exited ELD services previously. Research Methods/ Approaches. In the present study, we use multilevel models and statewide administrative K-12 and higher education longitudinal data to examine how ever-EL status predicts five outcomes: high school graduation, application to a four-year college, any college enrollment, and level of college attended. Findings. We show that, descriptively, ever-EL students differ significantly from their non-EL peers on a wide range of student and school characteristics, necessitating models that account for the many covariates of college going. Our models show that ever-EL status is associated with a greater likelihood of graduating from high school. Among high school graduates, ever-ELs are significantly more likely to enroll in college within three years of high school graduation than non-ELs; however, this is because they are significantly more likely to attend a two-year college and less likely to attend a four-year institution. Implications. In many ways, high schools perform the task asked of them—graduating EL students. However, given the increasing economic importance of a postsecondary credential in the labor market, ever-EL students remain underserved by Texas schools. We close with recommendations for policy and practice.