I explore in an article published today at edweek.org how researchers met recently at Brown University to discuss how educators and policymakers can better support children and grandchildren of immigrants in school so that they do as well academically as the first arrivals to this country. I attended this conference in part because I'm particularly interested in how schools might better support English-language learners who are born in this country. Nearly two-thirds of English-language learners are born in the United States, yet most news coverage and public attention focuses on the new arrivals. This message was conveyed in an ...


Yesterday, The New York Times launched what will be an on-going series of articles and opportunities for on-line discussion about immigration, with the first installment including commentary from experts and practitioners on how best to teach English-language learners. See "The Best Ways to Teach Young Newcomers." Linda Mikels, the principal of Sixth Street Prep School, a charter elementary school in Victorville, Calif., makes the case that English-only instruction for ELLs has been successful in her school. Marcelo and Carola Suarez-Orozco, co-directors of immigration studies at New York University, argue that the best results for ELLs come from dual-immersion programs. In ...


A teenager of Lao descent, who was born in the United States, refuses to take an English-language-proficiency test and gets suspended from her high school in Storm Lake, Iowa. Then about a dozen students protest in front of the school to show their support for the student. (Hat tip to TESOL in the News Blog.) As most of you know, schools are required by the federal government to give an English-proficiency test to students if parents say on a home-language survey that a language other than English is spoken at home. From the point of view of one of the ...


A few blog entries ago, I noted that teachers with certification to teach ELLs had more job security than those without it during layoffs at one California school district. A blog reader sent me a news article reporting that the school board of Community Unit School District 300 in Carpentersville, Ill., recently voted to lay off 46 teachers, including all its 32 general education first-year teachers. The March 11 article in the Northwest Herald notes that the layoffs didn't include special education or bilingual teachers. Update: But in Moreno Valley Unified School District in California the school board approved the ...


For years I've been hearing educators of English-language learners complain about how many Americans don't recognize the valuable native-language skills of these students. They ask: What better way is there to reverse Americans' reputation for being fiercely monolingual but for the nation to tap into the language skills of immigrant communities? Well, as I report this week in Education Week, some legislators and policymakers in the state of Maryland are poised to take better advantage of the skills of "heritage speakers," people who speak a language other than English at home. A Maryland task force has written a report with ...


Last weekend, I attended a conference at Brown University about immigrant students that hosted a panel of five undocumented youths. Three of the panelists are graduate students, two at Columbia University and one at Brown. One is an undergraduate and one is a college graduate who is working in his parent's grocery store in Brooklyn, unable to use his college degree. A young woman from the audience noted that she was undocumented and asked the panelists for advice. She graduated from high school two years ago and is applying to colleges. "I don't know if I'll get in or get ...


In Livermore, Calif., administrators say that having certification to teach ELLs is a credential that can help teachers to keep their jobs during layoffs in cases where teachers are tied in the amount of seniority they have, according to a March 5 article in The Independent (see 4th to last paragraph). The Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District has sent preliminary layoff notices to 25 teachers in the mail. The final notification happens May 15. Readers, are you finding this true in other school districts, that having certification to teach English-language learners is providing job security during these hard economic ...


It's a simple idea but not done enough in schools: having English-language learners who are native speakers of Spanish help a school's foreign-language students improve their Spanish. Check out this story about North Medford High School in Medford, Ore., that has created a bimonthly Spanish-conversation group for students who are native speakers of Spanish and advanced-Spanish students. It seems that it would also be good for the conversation group to have a component in which the ELLs could also improve their English with the native speakers of English. The article doesn't mention this. Over the years, one of the best ...


A complaint filed with the office for civil rights of the U.S. Department of Education questions if it's good for ELLs who are newcomers and attending a middle school in Utah to be separated from other students and taught in a newcomer program, according to an article published this week in The Salt Lake City Tribune. Interestingly, the article also gives the following information about Michael Clara, the person who filed the complaint: "He's specifically concerned about the school's decision to house newcomers outside the main building in portable classrooms." Let me attest to the fact that in my ...


A recent post on this blog, "What's an English-Proficiency Score Good For?," has prompted some interesting comments about how ACCESS for ELLs, the English-language proficiency test created by the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment consortium, or WIDA, is working out on the ground. The test is being used by 19 states and is thus the most commonly used English-proficiency test in the nation. The post reports on a study showing that reading and writing scores for ELLs on the English-proficiency test are a good predictor for how they will perform on their states' regular English/language arts and mathematics tests. ...


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