Rice U. report finds English-language learners less likely to participate in school choice

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations


David Ruth

Amy McCaig

Rice U. report finds English-language learners less likely to participate in school choice

HOUSTON – (Nov. 6, 2017) – English-language learners in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) are less likely to attend “non-zoned” schools, according to a new report from the Houston Education Research Consortium (HERC), part of Rice University’s School of Social Sciences and the Kinder Institute for Urban Research. Madeline Mavrogordato, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University, co-authored the study for HERC and is available to discuss the research.

In addition to a student’s “neighborhood” school, or zoned school, the district has magnet programs, charter schools and other options that allow a student to choose to attend a non-zoned school. Mavrogordato found that in HISD, current English-language learners were significantly less likely than their peers to attend non-zoned schools.

Only about 33 percent of current elementary students who are English-language learners were enrolled in a non-zoned school, versus roughly 46 percent for both former English-language learners (those who have become proficient in English) and those who were never classified as English-language learners. Likewise, in middle school, only 34 percent of current English-language learners attended non-zoned schools compared with 54 percent and 52 percent of former English-language learners and “never” English-language learners, respectively. In high school, the gaps were even larger: Only 18 percent of English-language learners attended non-zoned schools versus 43 percent and 45 percent of former English-language learners and never English learners.

“There are a couple of different explanations for this,” Mavrogordato said. “One that comes to mind fastest is language; these (students’) parents have a language barrier, and learning about schools and gathering the necessary information they would need to inform choosing a non-zoned school for their child is just more difficult for them.”

Julie Harris, a research analyst at the education division of CNA’s Institute for Public Research, co-authored the piece with Mavrogordato.

The research is the subject of a new post in the Kinder Institute’s Urban Edge blog, http://urbanedge.blogs.rice.edu/.

To request a copy of the full research brief or to schedule a phone interview with Mavrogordato, contact Amy McCaig, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6777 or amym@rice.edu.


Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.

HERC website: http://kinder.rice.edu/herc/

Link to Urban Edge blog: http://urbanedge.blogs.rice.edu/

Photo link: http://news.rice.edu/files/2015/08/ThinkstockPhotos-76754258-1.jpg

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.