I've spent some time this week browsing Colorin Colorado, a Web site with resources for teachers of English-language learners and their families, and I think it has some really useful information. You can subscribe to e-mail alerts from the site here. Since I've started this blog, I've begun to get some requests from parents of English-language learners who are having questions about their children's education. A mother of a child adopted from Guatemala, for example, doesn't understand why her 11-year-old daughter seems to understand everything that she says in English, but doesn't try to speak the language. The child has ...


U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Raymond J. Simon told a roomful of Latino leaders yesterday that the No Child Left Behind Act is working because it "has driven dramatic gains in math and reading achievement." Mr. Simon spoke at a meeting on Latino education held in Washington by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund. He cited examples of gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress as evidence that the federal education law is working for Hispanics as well as for all students. He said scores for 4th grade reading and math, for instance, "are...


At Aurora Public Schools in Colorado, 700 teachers and staff are taking an online course in Spanish this fall so they can communicate better with the school district's Spanish-speaking parents. Jose C. Paz, a translator for the district, who arranged for the classes, said district officials don't expect educators at the beginning stages of studying Spanish to learn much more than pleasantries in the course, which is designed for teachers and requires about 16 hours of seat time. But even that can help teachers to be more comfortable with Spanish-speaking parents, he said. He noted that the lessons are designed ...


A number of lawmakers who are working on reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act are invited to speak this week at a National Capitol Summit on Latino Students and Educational Opportunity, being held in Washington, D.C. The one-day meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. Invited speakers include Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Democrat from Massachusetts; Sen. Arlen Spector, a Republican from Pennsylvania; Rep. George Miller, a Democrat from California; and Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, a Republican from California. The summit is sponsored by the Virginia Beach, Va.-based ...


William McKenzie, a columnist for The Dallas Morning News, wrote a commentary this week that's worth pondering over. He takes the same position that U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has taken that it's simply "too long" to permit English-language learners to take tests in their native languages for five to seven years. (See "Secretary Spellings Criticizes ELL Proposals.") The "discussion draft" released by the House Education and Labor Committee for a reauthorized No Child Left Behind Act proposes that schools be permitted to give ELLs state tests in their native languages for five years—up from the three...


I just learned about another free resource for educators of ELLs. The Center for Applied Linguistics has created an online kit for schools to evaluate how their programs for English-language learners are faring. It doesn't come with software, but walks school officials through the steps of evaluating a program, with a special emphasis on two-way bilingual programs, in which students who are dominant in English and students who are dominant in a language other than English learn both languages in the same classroom. The description of the "evaluator's toolkit" says it is especially intended for people who have no prior ...


In the news business, we sometimes joke that if we can find three examples of something, it's a trend. I've found three examples of organizations or companies offering short on-line seminars on the education of English-language learners, so I believe I've stumbled on a trend for how short-term professional development is being delivered in the field. On Oct. 10, LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc., is offering a "webinar" for strategies and practical tips for teaching English-language learners. Mary Lou McClosky, a former president of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc., and Maria Enrique, a teacher at Alvin Dunn Elementary ...


If you'd like to know more about ELLs who were born in the United States, read Debra Suarez's review of the research on these students in the summer issue of the Heritage Language Journal. (Click on the second article in the Table of Contents.) Ms. Suarez, an associate professor for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, writes that in the 1991-1992 school year, a researcher found that about one-third of ELLs were born in the United States; in 2006, another researcher found that proportion had nearly doubled to 64 percent. ...


Leaders of the Los Angeles Unified School District would like to see the No Child Left Behind Act reauthorized so that money distributed to states for language-acquisition programs can be used for early-childhood education. That's one message that David L. Brewer III, who has been superintendent of the school system for nearly a year, and several other district officials took to Capitol Hill this week. Such a provision is not in the "discussion draft" of the House Education and Labor Committee. I heard the school district officials' views when they stopped by Education Week's offices this morning to talk with ...


It's a good time for educators and experts in the field to debate what kinds of alternative assessments for English-language learners work best, since assessment is dominating discussions about reauthorization of provisions for such students in the No Child Left Behind Act. Don Soifer, the executive vice president of the Lexington Institute, a conservative think tank in Arlington, Va., has been trying to get the word out that the institute opposes the use of portfolio assessments for ELLs for accountability purposes. Portfolio tests base test scores on samples of student work. The institute issued a 10-page report—writer Robert Holland's...


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