Current Research/Resources: The Unintended Consequences for English Learners of Using the Four-Year Graduation Rate for School Accountability (July 2019)

The Migration Policy Institute published this report to provide state education agency staff with the opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of including English learners (ELs) in the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) as part of the state accountability benchmarks and to shed light on the unintended consequences of such a policy. The author argues that using the four-year ACGR for ELs unfairly characterizes student and school performance, since ELs are more likely to graduate from high school in their fifth or sixth year. The report investigates the unintended consequences of local education agencies’ efforts to avoid being penalized under the Every Student Succeeds Act due to how the four-year ACGR is defined and calculated. Examples of these consequences include incentivizing high schools to prohibit enrolling EL students if there is a chance that they will not graduate in time, transferring EL students to charter schools, and redirecting EL students to alternative educational programs that may not suit their academic needs or career aspirations. The author recommends several ways to avoid these unintended consequences while adhering to state policies.

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