[lg policy] bibitem: Challenges and Realities for English Language Learners

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 3 14:52:16 UTC 2010

Challenges and Realities for English Language Learners
Share Article | May 2, 2010 Jennifer Hooks

Students, Their Families, and Communities Benefit From Bilingual Education

Bilingual education has been at the center of controversies spanning
educational reform to politics for generations. Unfortunately for
students caught in the debate, the constant tug-of-war has stymied the
appropriate focus on developing, enhancing, and researching the most
effective bilingual programs and instead forced educators to conform
their strategies to often unclear or fluctuating standards and goals.
English Language Learners (ELLs) inevitably become lost in the
confusion, paying an ultimate price that can impact their quality of
life, future employment possibilities, and social experiences.

Research over many years conclusively demonstrates that ELL students
benefit from bilingual education, not only for academic advantages but
also for social gains – which ultimately positively impacts society at

ELL Students Still Face Many Challenges Academically and Socially

The Longitudinal Immigrant Student Adaptation Study (LISA) from the
Harvard Immigration Projects at Harvard University started with a
sample of 407 immigrant middle school students and followed them for
five years until 2002. The researchers found that an alarming
two-thirds of the students in their study showed declines in their
grade point averages over the five years. Less than 25% (all of whom
were considered high-achievers) were able to maintain high GPAs.
(Zehr, 2007)

>>From this data, it might seem that ELL students who are struggling,
average, or even above average face a high probably of future school
challenges and falling grades, despite bilingual programs and
interventions. The roots of this decline are not entirely clear, but
social and academic stress plays a major role. What is apparent is
that when bilingual programs are eliminated, these students fare far
worse over the long term, with graduation rates and assessment scores
plummeting. The picture for ELL students who drop out before
graduation is bleak at best.

ELL Students Are Rarely Accurately Assessed on True Knowledge Due to
Language Barriers

Students who don’t speak or read English may be denied a high school
diploma based on graduation tests that do not fairly measure their
skills, according to statistics from the Center on Education Policy.
The study that produced this information also finds that ELL students
pass graduation exams on their first try at least 30 to 40% less often
than their English-proficient counterparts, further evidence that such
tests are not an accurate way to measure what ELL students can
actually do.

Read more at Suite101: Challenges and Realities for English Language
Learners http://educationalissues.suite101.com/article.cfm/challenges-and-realities-for-english-language-learners#ixzz0msVjLeRh

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