Hidden Progress of Multilingual Students on NAEP

Published online in:
Educational Researcher
June 12, 2018

Michael J. Kieffer, New York University
Karen D. Thompson, Oregon State University


Using National Assessment of Educational Progress data from 2003 to 2015, this brief describes changes in the reading and mathematics performance of multilingual students—defined as students who report a primary home language or languages other than English. Although all students’ scores improved, multilingual students’ scores improved two to three times more than monolingual students’ scores in both subjects in Grades 4 and 8. There was little evidence that these trends were explained by cohort changes in racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, or regional composition. These promising trends are obscured when researchers and policymakers focus only on scores for students currently classified as English learners.

Read the news release - "New Research Finds Reading and Math Gains of Multilingual Students Have Outpaced English-Only Speakers" - here.