Journal article

A matter of time: variations in high school course-taking by years-as-EL subgroup


By: Angela Johnson


English learners (ELs) lag behind their peers in academic achievement and attainment, partly due to limited exposure to academic content. Prior studies that examine high school course-taking find significant course access gaps between ELs and non-ELs but provide little information on the relation between course-taking and time spent as an EL. This study improves upon previous research by addressing this dimension of heterogeneity and reporting detailed by-subject analyses. I use student-level data (N = 41,343) from a unique district in California with a large number of Chinese and Spanish ELs. I find substantial heterogeneity in general and advanced course-taking based on time spent as an EL. But differences disappear once eighth grade test scores are taken into consideration.

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