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The Coming Demand for Credentialed ELL Teachers in Pre-K

In a push to improve early childhood education for English-language learners, Illinois will soon require pre-K teachers who work with ELLs to earn ESL credentials, Maggie Severns writes in The Washington Post.

The change in Illinois' policy regarding ELLs may serve as a lesson to other states, according to Severns, a policy analyst for the New America Foundation's Early Education Initiative—especially given the recent news that minority babies now account for a majority of all births in the U.S.

"Training teachers who give immigrant children their first systematic exposure to English sounds like common sense—but in almost every state, there is no such push," she writes. And considering that policymakers "have come to recognize the benefits of early childhood education," says Severns, most states' failure to target young ELLs for improvement is "surprising."

However, the credential requirement, which officially starts in 2014, could make it difficult for districts to find enough teachers with the necessary training.

Do you agree that a focus on ELLs in the early years could be key to closing the achievement gap between ELLs and their peers? Do you foresee problems with requiring more teacher training?

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