When Mayra Valtierrez talks about the students in New Mexico public schools who are learning English, one thing becomes clear: It’s an incredibly diverse population.

The New Mexico Public Education Department is tasked with serving not only students who have grown up speaking Spanish but also Native American children who are learning English and newcomers from other countries.

“We are a friendly state when it comes to taking any sort of refugees, or anyone who enters our state, so we have Spanish-dominant [English learner] students who come at any age, from being little to being youth,” says Valtierrez, the department’s director of language and culture. “We've been supporting some of our refugees from Afghanistan, for example, and from other places. Then we have the children of immigrants that were born here, and thus inherited a language from their family.”

Schools with English-learning students are tasked not just with ensuring that these children acquire the language but also, as with all other students, succeed academically and eventually graduate from high school.

But just how likely English learners are to graduate can vary widely depending on which state they live in.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that students who are English learners — sometimes called emergent bilinguals — generally lag behind their peers when it comes to high school graduation rates.

Read the full article about high school graduation rates by Nadia Tamez-Robledo at EdSurge.