This study estimated normative reading trajectories for the population of English-proficient language minority students attending U.S. public elementary schools. Achievement of English-language learners (ELLs) was evaluated in terms of native English speakers’ progress, and estimates were adjusted for the effects of socioeconomic status (SES). The ELL group was disaggregated into native Spanish speakers and native speakers of Asian languages. Multilevel latent variable growth modeling indicated that achievement trends of Asian-language ELLs are more similar to those of native English speakers than to those of Spanish ELL groups. Spanish ELLs had lower initial reading achievement than both Asian-language ELLs and native English speakers, and Asian students had higher initial achievement than did the native English speaking group. Additionally, Spanish ELLs had statistically significantly less growth over time than did Asian ELLs, with differences being most notable on reading evaluation–related tasks. Language-related differences in total reading were minimized when SES effects were specifically modeled, suggesting that SES may be the more significant factor explaining the lower achievement rates of English-proficient native Spanish speakers.
Roberts, G., Mohammed, S., & Vaughn, S. (2010). Reading achievement across three language groups: Growth estimates for overall reading and reading sub-skills using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(3), 668–686.