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San Diego State Scholar to Oversee California's ELL Efforts

As of this month, California has a new honcho to oversee statewide efforts to improve education for the state's 1.5 million English-language learners.

State schools chief Tom Torlakson has tapped Karen Cadiero-Kaplan, a professor at San Diego State University, to lead the California Department of Education's English Learner Support Division. Cadiero-Kaplan, who chairs the Department of Policy Studies in Language and Cross Cultural Education at San Diego State, has also been a classroom teacher and taught ESL at the community college level.

Cadiero-Kaplan has published a great deal on literacy and bilingual education.

A division focused exclusively on the needs of California's ELLs had been broken up and moved around within the state education department after 1998 when voters mandated that bilingual education programs be dismantled in favor of English immersion. Torlakson re-established the ELL shop last summer and also set up an "English Learner Integrated Action Team," which is charged with creating what the education department calls a "statewide plan" for ELLs.

I'm looking forward to seeing what a new, statewide plan for ELLs in California will entail.

Certainly, with one in four public school students in the state designated as an English learner, this population of students should be at the front and center of all the education policy discussions in California. Like all states that have adopted the common core standards, California will be wrestling with how to adapt the new standards for ELLs, and figuring out how to assess them. An important and tall order for that team and its new leader.

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