English Learners in Community Colleges

July 2019–June 2023

English learners—speakers of other languages who are in the process of developing their English language and literacy skills—constitute a large and growing segment of the community college student population. Yet research on English learners in higher education is sparse, especially at the community college level. There is little agreement on how to identify this population, let alone on what policies and practices might strengthen their chances to thrive in college and earn certificates and degrees.

This exploratory study, conducted in partnership with the University of California, Santa Cruz, aims to address this knowledge gap by examining English learners enrolled at the City Colleges of Chicago. The study will examine institutional policies and practices related to English learners’ enrollment and advancement in English as a Second Language and developmental English courses as well as college-level courses and programs likely to impact their academic outcomes. The study will help provide a foundation for the development of interventions designed to improve the outcomes of English learners at the City Colleges of Chicago, which may have implications for other community colleges in the U.S. Professor George Bunch is leading the work for UC Santa Cruz.

This project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences through grant number R305A190495.

Project Lead

Nikki Edgecombe