I learned recently that Amherst Regional Public Schools in Massachusetts clusters its English-language learners in four different elementary schools according to the children's home language. In a blog post, Catherine A. Sanderson, a member of the school committee for that district, explained that one elementary school has a concentration of Spanish-speaking students, another of Chinese-speaking students, another of those who speak Khmer, and yet another of children who speak Korean. About 260 of the district's 4,000 students, by the way, are English-language learners. Here's an excerpt from Sanderson's blog: So, why do we cluster kids by language? This decision ...


The eighth installment of a series about a school year in the life of a 9-year-old named Bill Clinton Hadam didn't say one thing that this reader wanted to know: How did a Congolese boy who grew up in a refugee camp in Tanzania get that name? I had to turn to the fine print in "about this project" over at the Christian Science Monitor to learn that bit of information. But in a very captivating way, this week's "Who's failing—the student or the test?" installment of the series "Little Bill Clinton: A school year in the life of a...


If you live in Phoenix, you might want to drop by Senate Hearing Room 1 in the State Capitol at 2 p.m. tomorrow and hear Arizona Superintendent of Instruction Tom Horne explain how Arizona's program to teach English skills to English-language learners for a four-hour block each day can be implemented for about $9 million. This school year, the state spent $40 million on the program. I just got a press releasing saying he'll explain in his annual "state of education" speech why the program needs $30 million less of taxpayers' money for the 2009-10 school year. Some Arizona ...


At least one school district is cutting funds for family literacy centers and another is thinking about slashing English-as-a-second-language classes for parents. The Provo, Utah, school district has slashed $230,000 from schools with family literacy centers for English-language learners. Immigrant parents are pushing the school board of Fairfax County, Va., to preserve English classes that serve thousands of foreign-born adults. Even before the economic downturn, English classes for immigrant adults that are affordable had long waiting lists in many communities (including my own community of the greater Washington area). Those lists are likely to get longer as school district ...


I can't find references in "Grad Nation," a new comprehensive guide for communities on how to combat the dropout crisis, to English-language learners, but the guide does point out that the dropout rate is high among Hispanics, many of whom are ELLs. On average, the nation has a much lower graduation rate for ELLs than for all students, according to "Perspectives on a Population," a spin-off publication from Quality Counts 2009. The graduation rate reported by states for ELLs is 64 percent versus 80.1 percent for all students. And Russell W. Rumberger, the director of the California Dropout Research ...


Twenty-five years ago this week, Education Week published several stories about the rise of bilingual education in this country and how, even then, the educational method was running into political problems. The lead story was "Law and Policy in the Lau Era: The Emerging Politics of Language," which is not available online. The stories were part of a series on language policy and marked a decade since the U.S. Supreme Court had decided in Lau v. Nichols that the San Francisco school system was violating the civil rights of Chinese-speaking students by not helping them learn English. I learned ...


My colleague Debra Viadero writes in "Scholars See Comics as No Laughing Matter" in this week's Education Week that scholars are viewing comics as a promising subject for educational research. She reports that about 125 teachers, scholars, and artists attended the first academic conference on "Graphica in Education" about how comics can be used in the classroom. Since using visuals is one recommended strategy for language teachers, it's no surprise that over at EFL Classroom 2.0, David Deubelbeiss has written about how manga and comics are great tools for educators of English-language learners. He includes a folder of comics ...


Although 75 percent of English-language learners in the United States speak Spanish, bilingual education teachers tell me it can be hard to find high-quality classroom materials in Spanish. World Book Inc. is apparently trying to fill the void. The company, in partnership with Hispanica Saber, has created a comprehensive online encyclopedia in Spanish....


The Guardian Weekly, a British newspaper, just published an adaptation of an article I had written for Quality Counts 2009 about the impact of provisions for English-language learners in the No Child Left Behind Act. The newspaper put a more provocative headline on the article, "No Child Left Behind, Did Bush Get It Right?", than did Education Week, but the content is basically the same as in "English-Learners Pose Policy Puzzle," which I shortened at the Guardian Weekly's request. Let me clarify that while the description of me at the end of the article says I'm "author" of Quality Counts ...


I wonder how English-language learners will be served at Manhattan's Louis D. Brandeis High School, now that that the New York City Department of Education has decided to break it up into three small schools, reported this week by the New York Times. The 2,251-student school enrolls a large number of special education students and English-language learners, according to the article. Two-thirds of its students are Hispanic and 28 percent are black. I visited this school in 2003 when I wrote for Ed Week about Spanish for Native Speakers classes taught there. I distinctly remember having a conversation with ...


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