Arizona ELL Student Graduation Rate Lags Far Behind National Average

By Carrie Jung
Published: Monday, February 27, 2017 - 7:31am
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017 - 8:16am

The graduation rate among English Language Learners is lagging behind that of non-ELL students in the United States. A report by NPR shows ELL students in Arizona have the worst graduation rate in the country.

The graduation rate among ELL students in Arizona is about 18 percent, according to an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data recently published by NPR. That’s well below the state’s non ELL student graduation rate of 75 percent.

Marisol Garcia, the vice president of the Arizona Education Association, said there are a lot of factors behind the disparity including funding and teacher turnover. But she adds, the biggest issue has to do with the state required block of ELL instruction, which for high school students, can keep them from earning other credits required to graduate.

"These students who want to be in school, who want to graduate from school, just don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel," Garcia said. "We’ve set up these barriers. And it’s a generation now. It’s 10 years in Arizona that we’ve been seeing this."

Looking nationally, the average ELL student graduation rate is 63 percent.