Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



This study focuses on the academic experience of English Learners (ELs) in Boston’s public schools in the year before and in the three years following the implementation of Referendum Question 2. In 2002, this referendum spelled an end to Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) as the primary program available for children requiring language support in Massachusetts public schools, replacing it with Sheltered English Immersion (SEI). Specifically, this report focuses on the enrollment and academic outcomes of the five largest groups of native speakers of languages other than English in the Boston Public Schools: speakers of Spanish, Chinese dialects, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, and Cape Verdean Creole and explores the different effects of the implementation of Question 2 on each of the groups. It does so by analyzing data on identification, program participation, engagement and achievement for each group and comparing the outcomes for students in programs for ELs with native speakers of these languages enrolled in General Education programs. In this report we list the findings for each group separately and conclude with discussion which compares the outcomes for the groups.

For Chinese, Vietnamese, Haitian, and Cape Verdean students and families, this is one of the first looks at the performance of students from these groups in Boston schools. Usually reported as part of aggregates defined by race (e.g., “Asian” or “Black”), information specific to these ethnic groups is seldom reported separately. We present here a limited view, since the available data do not allow us to ascertain the outcomes of all students from these groups but only of those students within these groups who are designated native speakers of their particular language.


This Report is part of English Learners in Boston Public Schools in the Aftermath of Policy Change: Enrollment and Educational Outcomes, AY2003-AY2006, a project of the Mauricio Gaston Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy in collaboration with the Center for Collaborative Education, Boston.



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