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Race to Top Finalists Include 3 of 5 Top ELL States

Florida, Illinois, and New York—three of the five states with the most English-learners in the country—are among the 16 finalists selected by the U.S. Department of Education for a portion of $4 billion in Race to the Top federal stimulus funding.

I make this point because ELLs were never mentioned specifically in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which authorized the stimulus funding for education. So far, I've learned of only a few school districts that have targeted stimulus funds for ELLs. That's even after a group of researchers, calling themselves the Working Group on ELL Policy, made it one of their missions to promote the use of education stimulus aid for ELLs.

If Florida, Illinois, or New York are named in April as winners of the first round of the Race to the Top competition, I imagine that some ELLs might benefit.

The two states with the most English-language learners, California and Texas, however, are not on the list. Texas didn't apply and California, which has about 40 percent of the nation's ELLs, was not selected.

I got the ranking for the states with the most ELLs in preK through 12th grade from the Migration Policy Institute, which based its analysis on data for the 2007-08 school year from the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition. The institute reports that the nation had 5.3 million ELLs that school year.

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