December 2007 Archives

My next post on Learning the Language will be early in the new year. Have a lovely holiday season and happy new year....


California will be the last state to fully comply with requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act that a state's English-language learners must be tested in English proficiency each year in grades K-12. I reported recently that all states and the District of Columbia had cleared an initial hurdle in putting such tests in place. (A blog entry on the same subject is here.) But my article didn't mention one nuance. California is still lacking one small piece of the English-language-proficiency testing system required by the federal government. The state is testing English-learners in kindergarten and 1st grade only ...


About 2 million of the nation's 53.3 million school-age children, or 4 percent, are living in the country illegally, says a report released by the Congressional Budget Office this month. And an additional 3 million school-age children are U.S. citizens born to parents who are undocumented. Those figures were first reported by the Urban Institute. The congressional report, "The Impact of Unauthorized Immigrants on the Budgets of State and Local Governments," is the first national report I've seen in several years released by the U.S. government that gives some clues about how much it costs state and ...


The winter 2008 issue of JSD, the journal of the National Staff Development Council, features stories of how several public school districts have trained mainstream teachers to work with ELLs. (The issue is free only to members of the organization and otherwise must be purchased.) Freeport Public Schools, a school district on Long Island, for example, combined two professional development strategies—lesson study, which originates in Japan, and Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, or SIOP, which resulted from a research project of the Center for Research on Education, Diversity and Excellence. In lesson study, teachers form teams, create lessons together, observe...


For months, Florida educators have been debating what level of training should be required of reading teachers who work with English-language learners. In June, Florida Gov. Charlie Christ vetoed a bill that would have lessened the requirements in English-as-a-second-language training to 60 in-service hours for reading teachers who teach ELLs, down from 300 hours. This fall, a similar bill (Senate Bill 286) was introduced in the Florida legislature. An analysis of the bill is available here. To get a sense for the passion of educators fighting for and against a reduction in training, read my earlier blog entries, here, and ...


If an English-language learner is moving into young adulthood and is short of a lot of credits to graduate from high school, he or she may decide to attend schools operated by the Office of Multiple Pathways to Graduation run by the New York City Department of Education, which aims to reach students at risk of dropping out. Advocates for Children of New York, a local nonprofit organization, put out a policy brief this week that contends many of those alternative schools are violating state law because they aren't offering the minimum of services required for ELLs. The policy brief ...


The Roswell Independent School District in New Mexico has a policy that school officials don't ascertain the immigration status of students, which complies with federal laws that entitle undocumented students to a free K-12 education. But that didn't stop a school resource police officer from discovering that Karina Acosta, a senior at Roswell High School, was undocumented, detaining her at school, and referring her to immigration authorities, according to news reports from Roswell and Albuquerque (here and here). She was deported to Mexico this month. (I learned about this story over at ImmigrationProf.blog). School officials are protesting the students' ...


I may be out of touch, but a Dec. 7 article in The News & Observer is the first news coverage I've seen of a plan by a school district to intentionally spread out the number of English-language learners in its schools because of accountability provisions under the No Child Left Behind Act. The article says that some board members of the Wake County, N.C., school district have argued that it's necessary to more evenly distribute the number of ELLs in schools so that individual schools are not overburdened with students who are struggling to pass standardized tests. At a ...


Someone over at the language-education division of Caslon Publishing in Philadelphia sent me review copies of a couple of handbooks published in 2007 that I think could help school people who want to form districtwide teams to address needs of ELLs. The first handbook, Special Education Considerations for English Language Learners: Delivering a Continuum of Services, which costs $34.95, advises educators on how to move beyond the question of "to refer or not to refer" an English-language learner to special education. It explains how schools can bring together a team of people with different kinds of expertise to address ...


Congressman Ron Paul thinks it is "good and proper" to have English as the only language used for all legal matters at the national level, but that bilingualism should be permissible in schools. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, noted that he and others "fought for English immersion" in Massachusetts, referring to how Massachusetts voters approved a ballot measure against bilingual education in 2002. Those are a couple of examples of how Republican candidates for president touched on language issues during yesterday's debate in Miami, sponsored by Univision, a Spanish-language network. Click here for a transcript. As I noted ...


One Latina got most of her information about college on her own, by searching the Internet. Another Latino student learned about the college application process through participation in Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, a college-prep program. The personal stories of how those two students and some other Latino youths made it to college are included in a report, "Voces (Voices): A Profile of Today's Latino College Students," released by Excelencia in Education, a Washington-based nonprofit organization. The report notes that despite increases in enrollment in higher education for Latinos, only 25 percent of college-age Latinos (ages 18 to 24) ...


It will soon be Christmas—a holiday celebrated by many Americans but not ALL Americans or students attending U.S. schools. The fact that Christmas is celebrated by many Americans gives teachers of English-language learners an opportunity to teach something about American culture, but the fact that it's not celebrated by everyone means they need to be sensitive in how they talk about it. The coming of Christmas can be a chance to talk about holidays in other countries as well as the United States. Colorin Colorado has posted some advice on what to consider when celebrating holidays in classrooms...


U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Colorado congressman and Republican candidate for president, turned down a Spanish-television network's invitation to appear in a debate among Republican presidential candidates this Sunday because he's opposed to having his remarks translated into Spanish, according to a Dec. 5 article in the Washington Times. Candidates will speak in English but their answers to questions will be translated into Spanish for broadcast on Univision, a Spanish-language network. The other Republican candidates accepted the invitation to participate in the debate, according to the article. The Washington Times quotes Mr. Tancredo as saying, "What all my colleagues—what...


An on-going goal I have for reporting on English-language learners here at Education Week is to get into classrooms as often as possible. Though I work for a newspaper about education, you'd be surprised how many weeks can go by—while I'm writing about proposals for reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act or explaining state policy changes concerning testing ELLs—that I don't set foot inside a classroom. Thus it was a pleasure to spend a day at Brooklyn International High School this fall trying to understand how teachers there provide instruction to ELLs of all different proficiency levels ...


An article published today in The Arizona Republic, "Money at heart of English-learning fight," gives an update to the long-standing controversy and court case in Arizona regarding how much the state must pay to educate its English-language learners. Republican legislative leaders in the state have appealed a U.S. district judge's ruling in Flores v. Arizona that the state legislature's plan for funding programs for ELLs doesn't meet federal law. (You can find my most recent posts on the court case here and here.) The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is expected to begin a hearing on ...


Whether Latinos in the United States are learning English quickly or not seems to be somewhat in the eye of the beholder. The Pew Hispanic Center reported last week that 88 percent of second-generation Latinos surveyed report they speak English very well. In their executive summary of the report, "English Usage Among Hispanics in the United States," the authors translated the 88 percent statistic into the following statement: "Nearly all Hispanic adults born in the United States of immigrant parents report they are fluent in English." But Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, which ...


Some Arizona school district officials are trying to figure out how English-language learners can take in four hours of English instruction each day, as a new state law requires, while also making sure they receive instruction in core subjects, such as social studies and science, according to a Nov. 26 article in the East Valley Tribune. The reporter who wrote the article, Andrea Natekar, stated simply: "A task force, consisting of university faculty, school administrators and others—the chair an economist—met for more than a year, and came up with a research-based approach to learning English." When I read that...


Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments

  • Charles: ELLs in our state ARE required to take State standardized read more
  • Melissa: Maybe I'm just becoming jaded, but this feels to me read more
  • Anonymous: Are you kidding me....UNO is an organizaion that literally destroys read more
  • Meg Baker: Are any schools using ACCESS scores for purposes other than read more
  • Dr. Mendoza: This is great news i must say. Hopefully this DREAM read more