Sita Sengsavanh:

Shifting immigration trends in Missouri and Implications for the No Child Left Behind Act

University of Missouri, School of Public Affairs




Shifting immigration patterns over the past decade have left many schools unprepared to address specific needs of immigrant students.  Providing services to the new student population is an unfamiliar process for many school districts.  At least 3.5 million children are classified as having limited English proficiency (LEP).  According to the 2003 Limited English Proficient Student Census of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the number of LEP students has increased by 13% over the year.  The number has almost doubled to 14,855 from five years ago where there were only 7,679 LEP students.  A very important issue from the Census is that some areas are experiencing high growth rates that add pressure for school districts to quickly adapt to the large changes.  The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 seeks to address the issue of availability of a quality education for all students.  For many immigrant students that are English language learners, NCLB makes funds available to help schools provide services to the target students and measures the English proficiency level of the students as progress.  Language research states that in order to become language proficient, students need anywhere between five and seven years to reach academic proficiency.  Many students are adapting to more than just a new language, they are settling in to a new environment, culture, and social setting.  Addressing these other issues immigrant students experience when adapting to Missouri schools can help facilitate the overall learning process of the student, not just the language proficiency. If these issues are not addressed, Missouri student achievement levels will decline overall, decreasing the amount of funding received from NCLB. 


In this presentation, I address two central questions: 1)  How are school districts using Title III funds of NCLB to address issues that may hinder learning of Latino students of Limited English Proficiency in Missouri and 2)  To what extent are the cultural differences an obstacle for Latino student academic achievement in Missouri schools?


Contact Information:


Sita Sengsavanh

605 E. Rockcreek Dr.

Columbia, MO 65203

(573) 289-4989

Graduate Student, Masters of Public Affairs

Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri Columbia