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ERIC Number: ED530613
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Mar
Pages: 26
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 10
Descriptive Analyses of English Language Learner Student Enrollment Data in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. REL Technical Brief. REL 2012-No. 024
Zehler, Annette M.; Yin, Chengbin; Donovan, Anne
Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia
State administrators in the Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia Region (Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) are responding to increased enrollment of English language learner (ELL) students in grades K-12, including in school districts that previously did not enroll ELL students or enrolled only a small number of them. ELL students are students who live in a home where a language other than English is spoken and have a level of proficiency in English insufficient to fully participate in all-English instruction without the support of additional language-related instruction services. This technical brief describes ELL student enrollment across school districts in the four Appalachia Region states for 2005/06-2008/09, updating Zehler et al. (2008), which described this enrollment for 1998/99-2004/05. Like the 2008 report, the current brief focuses on school districts with emerging ELL student populations, but it goes beyond by examining data by grade span (kindergarten [K], 1-3, 4-6, 7-8, 9-12) and geographic locale (city, suburb, town, rural). The findings can inform state and local education officials in making policy decisions and allocating resources to help districts serve the needs of ELL students in grades K-12. This brief addresses three research questions: (1) What was the 2008/09 enrollment of ELL students in grades K-12 in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia? How did enrollment change over 2005/06-2008/09?; (2) What was the 2008/09 enrollment of ELL students by grade span in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia? How did enrollment change by grade span over 2005/06-2008/09?; and (3) How were districts with ELL students distributed across geographic locales in 2008/09 in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia? Using data from the Kentucky Department of Education, Tennessee Department of Education, Virginia Department of Education, West Virginia Department of Education, and the National Center for Education Statistics (U.S. Department of Education 2009), the brief shows that over 2005/06-2008/09 total student enrollment was fairly stable. ELL student enrollment, however, continued to grow, though more slowly than in previous years (Zehler et al. 2008). Further, the number of districts in the region enrolling one or more ELL students increased. Key findings include: (1) ELL enrollment increased in three Appalachia Region states over 2005/06-2008/09: in Kentucky, by 44.7 percent (to 14,666); in Tennessee, by 19.2 percent (to 27,428); and in Virginia, by 20.2 percent (to 86,360). In West Virginia, ELL enrollment increased during the first three years (from 1,907 to 2,368) but declined from 2007/08 to 2008/09 (to 1,668), for a decrease of 12.5 percent over the four-year period; (2) The number of districts enrolling ELL students increased between 2005/06 and 2008/09 in two states: in Kentucky, from 97 of 176 districts to 140 of 174 districts; and in Virginia, from 122 of 132 districts to 127. During the same period, the number of districts enrolling ELL students decreased from 38 of 57 districts to 35 in West Virginia; (3) Some districts had substantial year-to-year increases in ELL student enrollment, defined as an increase of at least 50 percent over the previous year. Over 2005/06-2008/09, 63-90 districts had substantial increases in ELL enrollment for the three consecutive-year comparisons. Most of these districts had fewer than 50 ELL students; districts with 50 or more ELL students tended not to have substantial enrollment increases; (4) ELL enrollment as a proportion of total enrollment was higher for grades K-6 than for grades 7-12 in all four states. ELL enrollment as a proportion of total enrollment increased for all grade spans across the four years in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia and in the Appalachia Region overall. In West Virginia, annual enrollment increases from 2005/06 through 2007/08 were followed by a decrease from 2007/2008 to 2008/09 for all five grade spans; and (5) Approximately half of districts with ELL students were rural: 50.0 percent in Kentucky, 55.8 percent in Tennessee, 57.0 percent in Virginia, and 42.9 percent in West Virginia. Changes in assessments used to identify ELL students could have affected the enrollment data. Kentucky changed its assessment in 2006/07, and some districts in Virginia might have implemented a new proficiency assessment in 2008/09 (a year earlier than required). Appended are: (1) Criteria for identifying English language learner students; and (2) Data sources and methodology. (Contains 15 tables, 3 boxes and 12 notes.)
Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia. Available from: CNA Corporation. 4825 Mark Center Drive, Alexandria, VA 22311. Tel: 703-824-2828; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia (ED)
Identifiers - Location: Kentucky; Tennessee; Virginia; West Virginia
IES Funded: Yes