Friday, March 06, 2009

English Learners and NCLB

An Equity Agenda for English Language Learners
A Seven-Point Plan by the Institute for Language and Education Policy
P.O. Box 5960, Takoma Park, MD 20913;

In recent years the educational needs of English language learners (ELLs) have been, at best, an afterthought
for policy-makers. As a result:

• Decisions affecting ELLs are often made on the basis of political expediency, not sound research.
• School programs for ELLs are under-resourced in every state and at the federal level.
• Most teachers with ELLs in their classrooms have limited training in effective ways to serve them.
• All-English teaching methods are on the increase, despite their generally inferior results for ELLs.
• The parents of ELLs are rarely kept informed about, or involved in, their education.
• The vast majority of academic assessments now provided to ELLs are inappropriate for second-
language learners.
• So are the one-size-fits-all provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which sets unreachable
targets for an ELL “subgroup” that is constantly changing.
• While the law imposes detailed sanctions for “failure” by ELLs, it offers no guidance whatsoever to help
improve instruction.

Thus it is hardly surprising that English language learners – the fastest-growing group of American students –
also have among the highest failure and dropout rates. These children deserve better.
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