A Statewide Examination of English Learner's Access to English Language Arts: Effects of, and Solutions to, Conscribed Access
Ilana Umansky

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Oregon

Primary Discipline

A growing body of work identifies barriers to educational opportunity among EL-classified students (ELs). Key among them is curricular access, particularly English language arts. However, we know little about how this access varies for ELs in different settings, nor the effects of, or solutions to, EL tracking. In Oregon, EL students are between two and eight times less likely than non-ELs to be enrolled in English language arts coursework each year of high school. Yet these courses offer fundamental academic content and are required for graduation. Hence exclusion from English language arts may contribute to large achievement and graduation rate gaps between ELs and non-ELs. In this project I seek to answer three closely-related questions regarding (1) the extent to which ELs� take fewer English language arts classes and how English language arts access varies for different students and in different contexts, (2) the impact of ELs� English language arts access on academic achievement and graduation, and (3) how malleable policy levers are associated with differential access to English language arts. This study draws on longitudinal data from the state of Oregon and uses rigorous quantitative methods including coarsened exact matching and hierarchical linear modeling. The study promises to contribute to theory and understanding of tracking and opportunity to learn, specifically as they relate to multilingual and EL-classified students, just as it also will build understanding of how to address equity barriers and expand these students� learning opportunities at the secondary level. Importantly, the project builds on existing partnerships with agencies eager to enact beneficial policies for their EL-classified students.
About Ilana Umansky
Ilana Umansky is an Assistant Professor of Educational Methodology, Policy and Leadership at the University of Oregon. Her work explores how education policy impacts the educational opportunities and outcomes of immigrant, multilingual and English learner-classified students using largescale data, and longitudinal and quasi-experimental methods. She holds a PhD from Stanford University in Sociology of Education and is particularly interested in topics such as labeling and tracking as she focuses on how to create equitable school systems for immigrant and multilingual students. Her work appears in journals including the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, Educational Leadership, and Exceptional Children. Her work has received funding and awards from institutions including the Institute of Education Sciences, AERA?s Bilingual Education Research Special Interest Group, the Jacobs Foundation, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Fulbright Foundation, the National Academy of Education, and the Spencer Foundation..

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