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Disaggregate: English learner


A student or individual who is classified as an English language learner or as having limited English proficiency

Why it matters

Approximately 9 percent of K–12 students are considered English learners. In 2017, the national adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) for students with limited English proficiency was approximately 66 percent—a 19-point difference from the overall ACGR of 85 percent. One analysis of labor market outcomes shows that English-proficient workers earn 25 to 40 percent more than individuals with limited English proficiency. A survey of low-wage workers by the Harvard Business School indicates that English language fluency is helpful in achieving upward mobility in the workplace. Disaggregating outcomes for English learners is required for accountability in grades K–12 under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

What to know about measurement

In pre-K and K–12, students with a home language other than English must be assessed for their English proficiency. Students who do not meet local English proficiency standards are classified as English language learners, and their proficiency (and status as an English learner) is reassessed each academic year. In addition to tracking students’ current status as an English learner, some systems further disaggregate data by whether a student was ever an English learner (which includes students who have been reclassified), is a newcomer English learner (enrolled for less than four years in U.S. schools), or is a long-term English learner (classified as an English learner for more than five years). In postsecondary and workforce contexts, the federal government defines limited English proficiency as “individuals who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English.” These individuals may be entitled to receive language support from federal and state agencies.

Source frameworks

This disaggregate appeared in nine source frameworks reviewed for this report, such as the Council of Great City Schools Academic Key Performance Indicator framework, the California Cradle-to-Career Data System, and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act reporting requirements.


The framework's recommendations are based on syntheses of existing research. Please see the framework report for a list of works cited.

This website was funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.