Priority Populations

Promise or Peril: Immigrants, LEP Students and the No Child Left Behind Act

This publication draws a statistical portrait of immigrant and limited English proficient (LEP) students in prekindergarten through fifth grade. Based on a presentation made at the Public Education Network conference in December 2004, Urban Institute researcher Randy Capps discusses the implications of these findings for implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act.

The study focuses primarily on the early grades (pre-kindergarten through 5th grade), but also considers some issues affecting older children in secondary schools.  It includes four main components:

(1) A demographic profile of children in the nation’s schools, enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.  This profile is mostly based on 2000 Census data, and includes information about children and parents’ countries of birth, citizenship, legal status, the languages they speak, their English language ability, income, poverty and other characteristics.

(2) A road map describing the ways in which NCLB has changed requirements for states, districts and schools, including: assessment, instruction, teacher qualifications, parental involvement, and the impact of the NCLB sanctions on under-performing schools with large LEP and immigrant student populations.

(3) An analysis of the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) data on high-LEP schools.  This analysis uses the SASS to compare high-LEP schools to other schools in terms of student demographics, instructional programs, funding and other factors.

(4) Case studies of two high-LEP elementary schools each in three major urban school districts.  We will visit two elementary schools in three sites during two school years –  – 2004-05 and 2005-06 –  – to see how NCLB implementation is affecting these schools and their large LEP and immigrant student populations over time.