Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Massachusetts students of limited English proficiency do better academically than students of limited English proficiency in other states. But relative to other students in the state, students of limited English proficiency in Massachusetts face a disadvantage greater than that faced by their peers in most states. This suggests that while the overall higher levels of education in the state benefit LEPs in Massachusetts relative to LEPs who attend schools in states where the quality of education is lower, current policy and practice leads to significantly greater inequality in this state. As the state takes steps to improve performance for all students in Massachusetts, and particularly those in low performing schools, a clear vision and decisive leadership in addressing this gap is essential.


The Sub-Committee on English Language Learners of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Committee on the Proficiency Gap was formed in September 2009 to provide a short set of recommendations that would serve as “levers” for the improvement of the education of English language learners in Massachusetts. These recommendations would be considered for implementation in the state’s new initiatives focused on under-performing schools in ten districts, designated as priority districts, and which include Boston, Brockton, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester. The committee included 15 educators from across the state, a combination of academics, district superintendents, and directors of ELL services, a school principal, and staff of non-profits working in the area of education. The group met six times in the three months of its tenure. It received organizational and data support from the MDESE. During its inquiry, it also received data support from the Worcester and Framingham Public Schools and received administrative and research assistance from the Gastón Institute at UMass Boston with support from The Barr Foundation.

09_HaltingRace_ExecSum_Gastonsite.pdf (604 kB)
Halting the Race to the Bottom: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.