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Educating ELL Families on Common-Core Standards

This morning, a Los Angeles-area community organization with a decade-long history of advocacy for Latino students and English-language learners is hosting a forum to educate families about the new common standards in math and English/language arts.

The Alliance for a Better Community is hosting the morning-long event and is bringing members of the Los Angeles school board, along with members of the California Legislature, to talk to parents of English-language learners about the new, more rigorous standards that California has adopted and how those will affect their children who are ELLs.

This is the latest of several efforts I've been hearing about in recent months to explain the new standards (as well as the new assessments that will follow) to parents. What's remarkable to me about this particular forum is that it specifically targets the parents of English-learners. That makes sense in Los Angeles, where nearly 30 percent of the school district's students are English-learners.

The Council of the Great City Schools has published guides for parents to explain—for grade levels K-8—what their children will learn under the common core and how they can support their learning. The guides, so far, have been published in English and Spanish, but will also be published in other widely spoken languages. The National PTA also has a guide for parents in English and Spanish.

Colorín Colorado, a bilingual website with resources for teachers of English-language learners and their families, has a collection of common core information for parents in English and Spanish.

Earlier this year, the Spanish-language network Univision broadcast an in-depth series on the common standards, which was aimed directly at the Spanish-speaking parents of public school students.

There's no question that the common core is bringing some dizzying changes to curriculum, instruction, and assessment that are difficult for professional educators to grasp (not to mention education reporters). So explaining the new standards in math and English/language arts in a digestible, concrete form to parents is no easy feat, and requires even more care and attention for parents who do not speak English.

If readers are aware of other important family and parent engagement efforts that are focused on ELLs and common core, I'd love to hear about them.

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