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New Report Urges Connecticut to Ensure Opportunities for Growing ELL Population

A new report from a Hartford, Conn.-based philanthropic group encourages the state to ensure equitable opportunities for its nearly 35,000 English-language learners.

The policy paper from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving's Latino Endowment Fund documents the struggles and barriers the state's ELLs encounter: Nearly 80 percent of them attend schools in the 30 lowest-performing districts, and they are more likely to be placed in special education classes than their native English-speaking peers.

The state has also been plagued by persistent shortages of bilingual and world language teachers, the report authors found.

  Latino Endowment Fund ELL Report

To respond to the challenges, the report urges school districts to expand dual-language immersion programs to "build a more supportive multilingual environment that can cater to both urban and suburban families" and to amend teacher certification requirements to attract better talent.

The state's response to these issues will determine its ability to remain competitive in a global economy, said Latino Endowment Fund chairwoman Nelly Rojas Schwan.

Immigrants and their children will account for almost all the growth in the state's labor force for the foreseeable future, the report authors wrote.

"The future of our state's economy will largely be determined by how well we educate and train our English-language learners, and we hope this report will serve as a tool to aid this discussion," Rojas Schwan said in a statement.

Other recommendations from the report include:

  • Providing greater access to affordable professional development to help teachers support English-language learners.
  • Eliminating the state requirement that a district must have a minimum of 20 students requiring ELL support before receiving state funding.
  • Developing an adult education curriculum for parents that focuses on interactions with their children's schools and teachers.
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