English Language Learners

English language learners (ELLs) are students who participate in language assistance programs to help ensure that they attain English proficiency and meet academic achievement standards. ELLs face the unique challenge of developing English language proficiency while simultaneously learning academic content in English. In 2015, 9.5% or 4.8 million of public school students in the United States were ELLs.

  • During the 2015–16 school year, the high school graduation rate for all students reached an all-time high of 84%, whereas the graduation rate for students with limited English proficiency was 67%.
  • The number of ELLs enrolled in postsecondary education has steadily grown in part due to increases in immigration and international students studying in the U.S. From 1990 to 2014, the number of international students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities more than doubled, reaching 1 million students in the 2016–17 academic year.

There is very little data available on college entrance and completion and employment outcomes for ELLs, as many ELLs move from ELL status to non-ELL status as they develop greater language ability and thus are not tracked.


results in English Language Learners and 2015.