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English Language Learners, Immigrant students, Multilingual Learners, Postsecondary, Rural


Nearly 10% of students enrolled in public schools in the U.S. are identified as English Language Learners (ELLs). The population of ELL students is expected to continue to rise, therefore research about ELLs is both timely and essential. An increasing body of literature addresses the experience and outcomes of ELLs in the context of both K-12 and postsecondary education. Most studies, however, focus on California, Texas, Florida, and New York (Aguilar, 2010; Callahan et al., 2023; Flores, Batalova & Fix, 2012) presenting a need for more research to make state-by-state comparisons especially from rural states that have become new destinations for many immigrant families. This study seeks to understand the postsecondary enrollment trends of ELL students in Arkansas. Using administrative data from the Arkansas Department of Education and the National Student Clearinghouse, we found that ELLs in Arkansas are less likely to attend postsecondary institutions compared to native English speakers. Results vary by urbanicity and socioeconomic status. Similar themes appear when analyzing the types of postsecondary institutions that ELLs enrolled in after high school graduation. We conclude our analysis by providing discussions and policy recommendations based on the results.

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EDRE Working Paper

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