[lg policy] US: Experts weigh in on states’ English language learner policies

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Apr 3 16:10:06 UTC 2015

Experts weigh in on states’ English language learner policies*Apr 2, 2015*
| By Laurie Udesky <http://edsource.org/author/ludesky> | No Comments

Alison Yin for EdSource Today

*Student at Redwood Heights Elementary School in Oakland*

California and Arizona are cited as the only two states that require all
teachers and staff to be certified as specialists in English Language
Learning (ELL) methods, even if they don’t teach students who are learning
English as a new language, according to a new report
<http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/17/92/11792.pdf> by the Education
Commission of the States.

The report recommends that at the very least, all states should require
every teacher who is a candidate for a credential to receive some training
in ELL instruction. The report states the change is necessary because
students who are learning English are taught by teachers who overwhelmingly
lack training in ELL instruction.

The report says that states also need to make districts which are
recipients of funding for English language learners more accountable for
how they’re serving those students. Districts should show how they’re
meeting the needs of those students before receiving additional funding,
the report states.

Key measures for meeting the needs of English language learners, the report
says, include the level of funding for training teachers, the ability of
state programs to identify students who need help learning English and the
ability of states and school districts to track those students.

Good communication with parents is an important way for states to get
students signed up for programs that serve their language needs, the report

New York and New Jersey are among a few states that require ELL teachers or
other school staff who speak the “home language” of the parents to help
parents fill out forms about their children’s language needs. The
consequence of not using teachers with those qualifications to talk to
parents, the report says, is that parents may be hesitant to fill out the
forms* “*carefully, correctly, or at all.”
Going Deeper

New Report:  State English Learner Policies

California’s English language learner policies

English language learners, according to the report, benefit from
pre-kindergarten services. But only five states — Alaska, Illinois,
Michigan, New York and Texas — have policies that require state-subsidized
pre-K programs to provide instruction for English language learners.

While nearly 25 percent of California’s public school students are English
language learners, the state does not require specialized instruction for
those students. However, it has developed specific guidelines
<http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/psframeworkkvol1.pdf> on serving
the needs of children in pre-kindergarten programs.

The Education Commission of the States has also created a database
<http://www.ecs.org/html/educationIssues/ell/ell_intro.asp> of state
policies for English language learners.


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