The Lexington Institute, a conservative think tank in Arlington, Va., has published a paper that implies that some school districts in California should be reclassifying more of their English-language learners as fluent in English each year. In the 2005-2006 school year, California's school districts, on average, reclassified 9.6 percent of English-language learners as fluent, the paper states. It features case studies for several districts, including the 19,600-student Alvord Unified School District, in Riverside, Calif., where the reclassification rate in the 2005-2006 school year was 1 percent, and the 89,000-student Long Beach Unified School District, in Long Beach, ...


My last blog entry is wrong in telling what a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled regarding testing of English-language learners in California. After talking with lawyers for both sides of the case, I conclude that the article I posted from the Santa Cruz Sentinel overstates the reach of the ruling--and I distorted it further in my characterization of the article. (Matt King, the journalist who wrote the article, told me today that he wrote it based on what he took directly from the ruling in which "the judge made it very clear that he believes the state is acting ...


A San Francisco judge has ruled in a case that is being very closely watched in California that the state doesn't have to provide its standardized tests used for the No Child Left Behind Act in Spanish or languages other than English, according to an article published today in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The article notes that plaintiffs in the case, Coachella Valley Unified School District v. California, argued that California has "violated its duty to provide valid and reliable academic testing" for English-language learners. The judge disagreed. The article says it's not clear if the attorneys for the eight ...


I keep an eye out for whether English-language learners know about and participate in extracurricular school activities, so I took note this week that one of the top winners in a national writing contest about the importance of diversity in schools is an English-language learner. Laura Machado, 11, a 5th grader at Maupin Elementary School in Louisville, Ky., was selected as the top winner in the category of children under age 12 for her short piece, "Nations Are Gardens." Laura told me in a telephone interview yesterday that she moved to the United States from Cuba three years ago without ...


Six large education organizations--including the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and the National School Boards Association--contend that any measure reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act should ensure that educators won't have to test English-language learners until after they show "comprehension of English." They don't spell out how many months of instruction would enable the average English-language learner to be able to understand English or how educators would determine if students can do that. View the groups' May 18 statement on reauthorization of NCLB here....


A research-based initiative being piloted in 15 schools in six school districts in California requires participating schools to commit to "bilingualism, biliteracy, and multiculturalism" in teaching English-language learners, according to Jan Gustafson, the director of the project, called the PROMISE Initiative. (Its long name is: Pursuing Regional Opportunities for Mentoring, Innovation, and Success for English Learners.) Six Southern California county offices of education launched the initiative three years ago with a federal grant of $500,000. The pilot project started in September. Each of the six school districts pays an annual fee of $10,000 to participate. By 2009, the ...


Motivating English-language learners to use their Spanish is a bigger challenge than getting them to improve their English in some two-way immersion programs, according to a book published recently by the Center for Applied Linguistics. The book, Realizing the Vision of Two-Way Immersion: Fostering Effective Programs and Classrooms, profiles four schools with two-way immersion programs, also known as dual-language programs. These are programs in which children who are dominant in English and children who are dominant in Spanish learn both languages in the same classrooms. In many school districts, such programs have become the favored model of bilingual education. (I ...


Some teachers of English as a second language and professors in the field are trying to convince Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to veto a bill that some other teachers have worked very hard to get introduced and passed. The bill, passed earlier this month by both the Florida House and Senate, would decrease to 60 from 300 the number of in-service hours of English-as-a-second-language training required of reading teachers who want to work with English-language learners. The idea for the bill came from the Clay County Education Association, which represents 2,500 teachers and is affiliated with the Florida Education ...


Some of my sources have been telling me that I should look into how the break-up of large comprehensive high schools into small schools is affecting English-language learners. Well, Samual G. Freedman, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, has beaten me to doing some very concrete reporting on this topic. He wrote a piece that ran in the New York Times on May 9 focusing on how English-language learners apparently aren't being served as well as they were before Columbus High School in the Bronx became part of the small-schools movement. The story of the numbers alone is interesting. ...


Cristina De León-Menjivar of the Napa Valley Register has written a series about how the Napa Valley Unified School District in California has responded to provisions for English-language learners under the No Child Left Behind Act. "Despite the district's solid record of success getting newcomers up to speed in English quickly," she writes, "overall that student population is a drag on the district's test scores." I notice that some of the educators in the Napa Valley school district were adept in slipping into interviews their views about how they'd like to see the federal education law altered. For example, in ...


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