Exemplary Programs for Newcomer English Language Learners at the Secondary Level

Newcomer students who lack English proficiency and have gaps in their educational backgrounds are particularly vulnerable when they enter U.S. schools at the secondary level. The project goals were to 1) identify exemplary programs for newcomer English language learners in middle and high school; 2) gain a better understanding of the multiple approaches the programs use to support the students’ academic achievement, connect with social networks, and strengthen their educational and economic opportunities and civic integration; and 3) widely disseminate findings on effective practices and policies.

The project addressed these research questions:

  1. Which newcomer programs lead to academic success for students new to U.S. schools and new to the English language? What evidence of success do they have?
  2. What pathways and transition strategies have been enacted at exemplary programs to support newcomer students moving from middle school to high school and from high school to a postsecondary option, such as employment or further academic studies?
  3. What designs are in place to link the newcomer school programs with the social services agencies and how are the practices implemented?
  4. What barriers restrict students' access to social services or postsecondary options?

Through a combination of activities, including a national survey of newcomer programs and a series of case studies, CAL staff collected and analyzed evidence of the academic success of these students and determine the means by which the programs provide students access to social services and facilitate transitions to further education or employment.

Project deliverables:

  • Searchable, online database. The first product was a searchable online database with profiles of participating middle and high school newcomer programs. It is accessible to any educator, administrator, or policymaker interested in designing a new program or refining an existing one. Browse the database.
  • Helping Newcomer Students Succeed in Secondary Schools and Beyond. The second product was the report which describes the status of secondary school newcomer programs across the United States and their design features and policies, based on analysis of the data we collected from the programs that participated in our survey and from the case study sites. Learn more