Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Report focuses attention on English learners | EdSource

Report focuses attention on English learners | EdSource:

student description of how to figure out that 5 times 4 equals 20

Report focuses attention on English learners

As accountability for student progress in California becomes more local, a new report focuses on how school districts can better educate their English learners – calling on administrators to embrace biliteracy, provide a rigorous curriculum and train all teachers in how to support language development in core courses, not just English language development classes.
The report, by Oakland-based advocacy group The Education Trust–West, also recommends that the state continue to provide more funds for these students for up to two years after they have become fluent in English. That way districts will not have the “perverse incentive” to keep the students as English learners – in many cases denying them a more rigorous curriculum – to generate more funds, the authors say.
Under the Local Control Funding Formula, districts receive extra funding for English learners, but that funding disappears when the students are designated as fluent.
The report, “The Language of Reform: English learners in California’s shifting education landscape,” reviewed the progress of English learners in 276 unified districts serving at least 100 of those students in 2012-13. Tables in the report include the data from all 276 districts.
Nearly one of four students in California is learning English, and 85 percent of them live in low-income households. They have more than 60 home languages, though 85 percent speak Spanish. “Too often,” the report authors say, “they encounter insufficient academic supports, ill-prepared teachers and less rigorous coursework.”
Nearly one of four students in California is learning English, and 85 percent of them live in low-income households.
The researchers found 11 districts “that break the pattern” with better achievement, language acquisition and reclassification patterns. Those districts, the report said:
  • Believe that students’ native languages are cultural and linguistic assets;
  • Offer professional learning opportunities and collaboration time to ensure all teachers are able to support English learners;
  • Offer English learners access to a full Common Core–aligned curriculum;
  • Engage parents and forge strong home-school connections.
The districts’ approach to achieving those goals varied considerably, said lead author Carrie Hahnel, adding that “there are multiple pathways to achieve success with English learners.”
“We did not see a clear pattern or a couple of interventions that are needed in order to achieve success,” she said.
The researchers used four measures to determine how well districts were doing: proficiency rates on the English Language Arts portion of the California Standards Test; annual progress on the California English Learners Development Test, which measures how well Report focuses attention on English learners | EdSource:

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