Document Type

Research Report

Original Publication Date


Date of Submission

June 2016


n recent years, public schools in Central Virginia have experienced a fast growing ESL population. School districts throughout the state have reported increases in their ESL population that range from 300% to 700% in the past ten years. Unlike states with big cities that traditionally have a high immigrant population, the Virginia schools where the number of English language learners (ELLs) has increased recently, are less likely prepared to meet the needs of this particular group of students (Echevarria, Vogt & Short, 2004). With the passage of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act (2002), academic success is increasingly being measured by standardized exams in a variety of content areas, such as math, science and social studies (Darling-Hammond, 2004). Responding to the NCLB act, Virginia state policy expects all ELLs to demonstrate not only language proficiency but also academic proficiency in content area after their first year in the U.S. school system. This one-year exemption policy does not agree with the research findings that it takes 5-7 years, or even longer, for ESL students to achieve average grade-level performance (Collier, 1987; Cummins, 1981, 1989, 1996s).

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