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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute (UC LMRI), is a multi-campus research unit of the University of California that was established in 1984, in response to the California Legislature's request that the University of California's Office of the President pursue "...knowledge applicable to educational policy and practice in the area of language minority students' academic achievement and knowledge," including their access to the University of California and other institutions of higher education.

Cover page of Understanding and Addressing the California Latino Achievement Gap in Early Elementary School

Understanding and Addressing the California Latino Achievement Gap in Early Elementary School


One of the most pressing problems in California is improving student academic performance, especially the state’s burgeoning Latino student population. This study examined the extent of the achievement gap between Latino and White students over the first two years of elementary school and the characteristics of students and schools that contribute to it. The analysis revealed that Latino students begin kindergarten at a considerable educational disadvantage relative to White students and the disadvantage increases during the first two years of school. Yet schools do little to widen or narrow these differences. Instead achievement differences increase when students are not in school. Consequently, to reduce the achievement gap will require both effective education policies and policies that address the overall social welfare of Latinos outside of school.

Cover page of The Inequitable Treatment of English Learners in California’s Public Schools

The Inequitable Treatment of English Learners in California’s Public Schools


In California, the state is responsible for ensuring equality of educational opportunity for all of its students. Yet, with respect to English learners, the state has largely failed even to assess the conditions of education for these students. It has not adequately monitored their educational opportunities in terms of access to critical resources such as qualified teachers, appropriate instructional materials, coursework, and learning environments. In this study we first examine the achievement gap for English learners in California. Second, we review evidence in seven areas in which these students receive a substantially inequitable education vis-à-vis their English- speaking peers, even when those peers are similarly economically disadvantaged. Third, we examine the failure of the state to monitor, prevent and correct substandard EL learning conditions. Finally, we discuss some possible ways for the state to equalize the opportunities for this significant sub-population of students.

Cover page of Educational Outcomes and Opportunities for English Language Learners

Educational Outcomes and Opportunities for English Language Learners


There are several reasons why California needs to pay careful attention to the schooling of language minority students in their public schools. First, language minority students now constitute more than one-third of all students in California’s schools—a proportion that will grow even higher in the future. Second, English learners require a specialized curriculum and properly trained teachers to support their development of English literacy and to learn the rest of the required academic curriculum if they are to keep pace with their English-speaking peers. Third, the schooling of English learners is highly politicized—particularly concerning the use of native language instruction (or bilingual education) in developing native language literacy and initial academic content while learning English. Although the research evidence on developing English literacy in non-English speaking students is very sparse, prompting the federal government to initial a number of long-term research studies on the topic, there is a growing political movement in many states to promote English-only instruction, such as Proposition 227 that was passed by California voters in June 1998.