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Supporting English-Learner Achievement: What States Can Do

English-language learners are in every state, most school districts, and many classrooms. At 10 percent of the nation's public school population and growing, education policymakers in every state need to be attuned to their needs.

So argues a new policy brief from the Education Commission of the States.

In the brief,  ECS describes the prevalence of English-learners and the diversity of the population, which varies greatly state by state. The brief then outlines a number of areas where policy actions could help educators better support the success of ELLs.

And no surprise here that early-childhood programs are at the top of ECS' list of where states need to focus.

A quick rundown of the recommended focus areas:

• Equipping preschools and the educators who work in them to address the needs of English-learners, including providing bilingual programs to develop both languages;

• Requiring all classroom teachers to complete professional development in teaching English as a second language;

• Limiting the reliance on pull-out programs that limit ELLs' access to core academic content;

• Focusing on long-term English-language learners who languish for six or more years without gaining enough proficiency to exit ELL services.

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