6 facts about English language learners in U.S. public schools

Source: Pew Research Center

Demographic Change in Maine Schools

Kindergarten students line up with their books at Gov. James B. Longley Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine. Over 70% of the school’s students are English language learners. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

There were nearly 5 million English language learners in U.S. public schools in fall 2015, according to the most recent available data from the National Center for Education Statistics. This represented 9.5% of U.S. public school enrollees, an increase from 8.1% in 2000.

English language learners (ELLs), a broad term that refers to students with limited English proficiency, are a diverse group from many different states and native language backgrounds. The educational experiences of ELLs also vary greatly across the country, as states and schools differ in how to identify ELL students and in how to teach them. Regardless of approach, ELLs represent a growing part of the U.S. student body.

Here are six facts about English language learners in U.S. public schools.

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