English-Language Learners Infographic

The Growth of Hispanic Students and English Learners Nationwide—in Charts

By Ileana Najarro — January 30, 2023 1 min read
Dalia Gerardo works with her 2nd grade students at West Elementary, in Russellville, Ala., on Dec. 9, 2022.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The demographics of public school students are changing rapidly, including in the South. That means school districts must find ways to meet the needs of an increasingly Hispanic and multilingual student body, researchers and advocates say.

In Alabama, for instance, the mostly Hispanic English-learner population grew from about 2.4 percent to about 5 percent in the last 10 years. In the Russellville school district in the northern part of the state, English learners now make up a quarter of the student population.

Nationally, English learners are one of the fastest-growing student populations. Yet advocates say state and federal policy and funding lag behind what’s needed to ensure these students’ linguistic and academic needs are met. That’s especially the case when it comes to sorting out best practices for older immigrant students who have less time to become proficient in English and meet graduation requirements.

A majority of the nation’s English learners are Hispanic, itself a fast-growing demographic within public schools.

To adapt to its growing Hispanic and English-learner population, the Russellville district used federal pandemic relief funding to hire bilingual instructional aides beginning in 2021. Working primarily with students in grades K through 2, the aides—in tandem with general classroom teachers and English-as-a-second-language teachers—have produced results. With the added support, more of these young students have been reaching their language proficiency goals.

But since the funding for these aides will dry out in May 2024, districts like Russellville face challenges to sustain initiatives that work for English learners—both young and older.

To learn more about how this Alabama town is adapting to growing student needs, read our newly published series.

Dive Into the Project

PART 1 | A Burgeoning Success Story: In one small Alabama city, prioritizing English learners is the new normal. Learn how the district's efforts have paid off.

PART 2 | Gains Under Threat: With funding unstable and major challenges facing secondary students, Russellville’s English learner journey remains tenuous.

Why Support for English Learners Matters: A bilingual aide now provides the support she didn't get as a former English learner. Read her story.

In a Teacher's Own Words: Teachers need the right mindset to help English learners—but district leaders set the stage.

The Growth of English Learners, in Charts: Explore the data on the growth of Hispanic students and English learners nationwide over time.

Witnessing Change in a 'Little Town for Latinos': Born in Russellville, Ala., to immigrant parents from El Salvador, an English learner reflects on his journey in this video.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

English-Language Learners Project After Early Success with English Learners, Can a District Keep Its Momentum?
The Alabama school system's gains are threatened by time-limited funding, unaddressed needs at the secondary level, and moribund state policy.
11 min read
Students ride the bus home from Russellville Middle School in Russellville, Alabama, on Dec. 9, 2022.
Students ride the bus home from Russellville Middle School in Russellville, Ala., on Dec. 9, 2022.
Tamika Moore for Education Week
English-Language Learners 4 Ways to Build Social-Emotional Skills for English Learners
Teaching students how to master a second language and develop SEL skills at the same time is challenging.
3 min read
Image of a child building a structure with marshmallows and spaghetti noodles.
English-Language Learners 5 Ways Teachers Can Collaborate to Support English Learners
To achieve equitable outcomes for English learners, all educators must work together, say researchers.
5 min read
Attendees to the 2022 WIDA conference participate in sessions.
Attendees to the 2022 WIDA conference participate in sessions.
Courtesy of WIDA
English-Language Learners Want to Support Immigrant Students? Get Creative With Funding
Immigrant student supports can vary widely, but there's one common thread: Districts must get creative to fund them sustainably.
5 min read
Eric Parker teaches a class NW Classen High that has immigrant students and he has a flag representing each, which is a way to make them feel welcome, Tuesday, September 10, 2019.
Eric Parker, a teacher at Northwest Classen High School in Oklahoma City, displays flags representing the countries some of his students come from in this September 2019 photo. It's a way to make immigrant students feel welcome.
Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman via AP