Hidden Losses: How Demographics Can Encourage Incorrect Assumptions about ESL High School Students’ Success


  • Kelleen Toohey
  • Tracey M. Derwing




Data from ESL students’ records in Vancouver are examined in the light of the BC Ministry of Education’s claim that ESL high school students are more successful than students whose first language is English. We argue that the academic achievement of well-to-do students whose parents are skilled workers or entrepreneurs may mask the completion rates of students who entered BC through the family and refugee classes. The latter students, like their counterparts throughout Canada, are disappearing through the cracks in the education system. We maintain that it is time for provincial ministries, school boards, postsecondary institutions, and other stakeholders to work together to improve the current situation, which prevents many immigrant youths from achieving their educational aspirations.