CHAPTER ONE: Landscape Analysis
Background and Context for ESOL Services
Overview of the ESOL System in Greater Boston
Need for English Language Services in Greater Boston
Supply of ESOL Services in Greater Boston
CHAPTER TWO: Qualitative Analysis: Survey Results and Case Studies by Type of Program Introduction
Findings from Online Self-Administered Survey
In-Depth Interviews with ESOL Program Directors/Managers
CHAPTER THREE: The Economic and Social Return on Investment for ESOL Programs
Measuring the Value of English Language Proficiency
The Effectiveness of the ESOL System in Greater Boston
Assessing the Economic and Social Value of ESOL
CHAPTER FOUR: Conclusion
References and Appendices
Appendix A: Map of Greater Boston (Boston Foundation Catchment Area)
Appendix B: Landscape Analysis Methodology
Appendix C: The Greater Boston ESOL System
Appendix D: ESOL Level Descriptions
Appendix E: Interview Guide Questionnaire
Recognizing the importance of immigrants to Greater Boston and the value of English classes and other supports to building an inclusive and welcoming community, the Boston Foundation and the Latino Legacy Fund commissioned a study that explores the “return on investment” (ROI) for teaching English to adults who are speakers of other languages. Known as ESOL programs, these services are an important component of adult education and a key piece of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The result of that study is this report, comprising an analysis of the region’s ESOL landscape that provides background and context for the in-depth case studies and ROI estimates that follow.
We utilized a variety of techniques drawn from quantitative and qualitative research methods. Key steps included:
We identify key demographic, socio-economic and policy factors that shape the context in which ESOL programs operate, and provide an overview of the ESOL system that highlights the funding sources and stakeholders who are the principal drivers of the system. Our landscape analysis provides an assessment of the need for English language services and a snapshot of the current supply of ESOL services in Greater Boston, with a focus on discovering gaps and barriers. This is followed by our qualitative analysis that draws on our survey results and case studies to offer deeper insights into program operations, including the challenges faced by different types of ESOL programs. Finally, our ROI analysis assesses the economic and social return on investment for ESOL programs in Greater Boston including the effective-ness of the ESOL system with regard to participation, Measurable Skill Gains and long-term outcomes such as employment and wage gains.
Based on the key findings from our analyses, we identified the following gaps and barriers to ESOL services.
Our research points to six broad areas where strategic leadership and investment could lead to transformative changes in the ESOL system. They are:
As immigrants account for an ever-increasing share of Greater Boston’s population and workforce, our economy will depend on our ability to cultivate and draw upon the skills and talents of these newcomers. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act passed in 2014 has the potential for re-aligning the supply and demand for ESOL services. Through the unified state plan and common performance measures and reporting requirements, this legislative shift is promoting change in funding streams, data and reporting systems and other institutional structures and processes. Yet progress has been slow as the greater focus on longer-term goals such as employment, education and training outcomes requires more meaningful integration between ESOL and workforce development services. Until we are able to meet the demand for ESOL services in Greater Boston, we will fail to realize the full potential of the economic and social return on this critical investment in our residents.