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Defining an Adequate Education for English Learners


  • Patricia Gándara

    () (Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles)

  • Russell W. Rumberger

    () (Graduate School of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara)


This article explores the components of an “adequate” education for linguistic minority students in California and attempts to distinguish these from the components of an adequate education for low-income students who are native English speakers. About 1.6 million students were classified as English learners (ELs) in California in 2006. We argue that in order to determine the costs of educating these students, it is necessary to specify the goals of instruction. Four possible goals are: (1) reclassification to fluent English proficient (FEP) only; (2) reclassification to FEP and maintenance of academic proficiency; (3) reclassification with biliteracy; and (4) reclassification and closing of achievement gaps. Each goal implies different resource needs. We conclude that most additional resources needed by EL students are similar to those for other low-income children; some specific areas of need that differ are English language development (ELD) materials and additional skills for teachers. Biliteracy can be achieved with modest additional investment. © 2008 American Education Finance Association

Suggested Citation

  • Patricia Gándara & Russell W. Rumberger, 2008. "Defining an Adequate Education for English Learners," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 3(1), pages 130-148, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:edfpol:v:3:y:2008:i:1:p:130-148

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    More about this item


    English as a second language; minority students; biliteracy; California;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid


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