Supporting the needs of multilingual learners is a pressing need for educators. Multilingual learner enrollment in K–12 schools increased by 28% since 2000, and there are now an estimated 4.9 million children in U.S. public schools learning the English language. Millions of those students are spending much of their days in general education classrooms, often with teachers not specifically trained to work with them. By 2025, 1 out of 4 children in classrooms across the nation will be a multilingual learner student.

California has the largest number of multilingual learners in the United States, with over one million students—nearly 20% of the K–12 student population. According to the National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP), in 2019, 87.4% of these students did not meet grade-level expectations for mathematics standards. NAEP scores also reveal enormous gaps in mathematics with multilingual learner students performing 23–36 points below their non-multilingual learner peers in grades 4 and 8. This gap has been exacerbated by challenges and impacts stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic with mathematics scores in 2022 showing the largest decline in two decades

Gaps that exist for many multilingual learners have nothing to do with ability. “Access is key,” said Dr. Shontoria Walker, Adoption and Innovation Lead at EdReports and co-author of Culture To The Max! Culturally Responsive Teaching and Practice, “We’re truly trying to push students to that next level and give them access to the content. We have to be aware that just because they cannot do it doesn’t mean that they do not know it. They just don’t have an access point.” 

Language access is crucial for each content area, including mathematics. “Every aspect of core content is grounded in literacy, whether it’s science, math, ELA, or social studies,” said Walker. “You really need students to access that language and that language development in order to be successful in any core content.” 

Multilingual learner students deserve high-quality instructional materials that offer integrated language supports in order to access the grade-level content they need to learn and grow. Many programs say they provide these supports, but as we’ve learned in our work over the past decade, it’s essential that districts have independent information verifying such claims.

Working with California educators, EdReports set out to do just that– provide clear, comprehensive evidence about how well middle school mathematics programs meet the needs of multilingual learners.

Read more about the pilot project including >

  • What we learned about two of the most widely used math programs in California 
  • How California districts are using pilot resources in current materials selection processes to prioritize multilingual learners
  • How EdReports is applying our learnings from the pilot as we work towards enhancing and deepening the information we provide to the field around these supports