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While I Was Away: ELLs and Immigrants in the Spotlight

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News and report releases about ELLs or immigrants didn't stop while I was on a two-week vacation. Here are a few noteworthy items:

—National Public Radio featured Francisco Ruiz, an English-as-a-second-language teacher at Boston's English High School who tries to steer his students away from what he calls a "culture of excess": rap music, baggie jeans, short skirts, and a fixation on sports heroes.

—Pew Hispanic Center released a report that shows that the flow of immigration from Mexico to the United States has slowed in the last three years, but there aren't any signs that Mexican-born immigrants are increasingly returning to their home country from the United States.

—The National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition put out a summer edition of its newsletter that focuses on literacy and ELLs. Judith Wilde, the executive director of the clearinghouse, provides an analysis of the reading progress of ELLs on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. That assessment included accommodations for the first time for ELLs in 2004. Since then, scores for ELLs and non-ELLs have increased in reading overall. Reading scores for ELLs who are 9 years old and who are 17 years old have increased at a faster rate than scores for non-ELLs. That's not true, though, for scores of ELLs who are 13. Scores for that age group of ELLs have stayed the same.

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That is, of course, in the context of the rather abstract notion of "ELLs who are age X" in different years. In other words, the population in 2004 was different from the population in 2008. A very large number of variables could have affected this result: size of population, immigration patterns, changes in ELL exit criteria... you name it.

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