Middle School Outcomes Related to Earlier English Language Acquisition in Dual Language Learners



Norvell, Gabrielle R

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Dual Language Learners (DLLs) in the US are young children who speak at least one language other than English at home and who are simultaneously mastering their native language(s) and English. Students who become English proficient earlier often experience better academic outcomes, but research on the in-depth relationship between the speed at which DLLs acquire English proficiency and later academic outcomes while accounting for relevant factors is rare. The current study used data from the Miami School Readiness Project (MSRP) to investigate how the grade in which DLL students acquired English proficiency correlates with their later middle school academic outcomes (GPA, standardized test scores, grade retention). Participants included DLLs with middle school outcome data (N = 14,852; 47% female; 85% receiving free/reduced-price lunch; 88% Latinx, 8% Black, and 3% White/Asian/Other). I examined the extent to which the total number of years DLL students spent in the English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) program related to later academic outcomes in middle school and examined for which grade(s) student ESOL exit matters the most. Statistical analyses, including ANOVAs, chi-square tests, multiple regressions, and logistic regressions, were used to compare DLL students who reached English proficiency between kindergarten and 8th grade. Results indicated that earlier acquisition of English generally predicts better later academic outcomes. Additionally, earlier English acquisition seems to be more strongly related to later reading outcomes than GPA or math, and DLLs not proficient in English until 6th grade or later have higher odds of being retained in middle school. The implications for the education of DLL students and future research are discussed.



Dual language learners, Academic performance, Middle school, English proficiency