The Baltimore Sun has published an investigative series of articles and videos about the conditions for Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, and the United States. (Hat tip to ImmigrationProf Blog.) By some estimates, according to the article, four out of five of the Iraqi refugee children living in Jordan and Syria are still not attending school. See my reporting on this issue in "The Lost Years," published by Education Week in March. Here's an excerpt from a Dec. 28 article, "No Place to Go," in the series that reports on Iraqi refugees living in a suburb of Damascus, Syria: The ...


Right now, the Florida Department of Education is a big player in that state's debate over how much training is necessary for reading teachers to effectively teach English-language learners. The department is proposing a reduction in the number of hours of training required for reading teachers in how to work with ELLs, saying that the high bar makes it hard for schools to find such teachers, according to a Dec. 26 article in the Miami Herald. Here's where the matter stands: Current rules require teachers who educate students learning English to have 300 hours of training. Educators who teach reading ...


The education review team for President-elect Barack Obama has forwarded to the transition team names of several people who have been recommended by civil rights or education groups to be appointees in the new administration, according to a Dec. 24 article in Diverse magazine. Those who have been recommended are Kris Gutierrez, a professor of social research methodology at the University of California at Los Angeles; Elena Izquierdo, an associate professor of teacher education at the University of Texas at El Paso; and Maria Santos, the superintendent for the New York City Department of Education's office of English-language learners. Interestingly, ...


My reporting has been heavy on serious news and light on innovations for teaching ELLs in the last year. In 2009, I hope that innovations will abound and that I'll be able to draw your attention to them. (Otherwise I might have to strike the promise to report "innovations" from the description of Learning the Language.) The year brought some significant news about ELLs, as I reported in these Education Week stories. —It's No Secret: Progress Prized in Brownsville. A school district in which 42 percent of students are ELLs won the Broad Prize for Urban Education. —Education Officials...


The amount of time adolescent English-language learners speak English in informal situations, such as at work or in the school cafeteria, has more of an impact on how well they learn English than how much they practice the language in the classroom or at home, according to a study published in the December edition of the American Educational Research Journal. The study, "Explaining English Language Proficiency Among Adolescent Immigrant Students," looked at a sample of 274 immigrant students, ages 14 to 19, who had been in the United States for 6.9 years on average. They were attending schools in ...


Today, William Wayne Justice, a senior U.S. district judge for the eastern district of Texas, in Tyler, denied a request by the state of Texas to delay carrying out a court order to revamp its programs for secondary English-language learners (find the court's denial here). The state had wanted to delay having to comply with the order while it appeals the federal judge's July 25 decision. Dec. 22 Update: The San Antonio Express-News published an article on Saturday about the judge's denial of the state's request. In his July decision for the long-running court case, U.S. v. Texas, ...


The World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment, or WIDA, consortium today released sample questions for the nation's most popular English-language-proficiency test, ACCESS for ELLs. Virtually all of the questions have illustrations (which are printed in full color!) to help students understand English vocabulary. After browsing the questions, I had a better understanding of how visuals can be used to help ELLs, both in testing and instruction. Here's a sample WIDA writing question for grades 6-8: A local charity donated $10,000 to your school. The principal has asked the students for ideas on how to spend the money. These are the ...


The Washington Post reports some good news today in the world of English-language learners. The article says that 91 of the 98 ELLs at Highland Elementary School in Montgomery County, Md.--a school now tapped for a coveted educational honor--passed the state's reading test this year. The school is one of six recently nominated by the Maryland State Department of Education for the U.S. Department of Education's "blue ribbon" schools program. Also, the Post reported today that the Maryland State Board of Education has approved a policy that enables some seniors at risk of not graduating, including English-language learners, ...


Though language-minority students scored lower on a 1st grade math assessment than students who speak primarily English at home, the two groups of students made the same gains in math between 1st and 5th grades, according to a study released this week by the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education. Language-minority students are children who speak a language other than English at home. The study also found that two different subgroups of language-minority students—those who are proficient in English and those who are still English-language learners—also made the same gains in math ...


The Center for American Progress is promoting expanded learning time for English-language learners with a report that features several case studies of schools that have extended the school day or year. "It's common sense" that extra learning time can be particularly beneficial for ELLs because they "have more to learn in less time," Melissa Lazarin, the associate director of education policy for the Center, said at a forum held yesterday to release the report, "A Race Against the Clock: The Value of Expanded Learning Time for English Language Learners." The forum highlighted an interesting effort in Massachusetts that has expanded ...


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