Nearly 60 percent of English Learners haven’t mastered English reading and writing despite six or more years of U.S. education, concludes a study of California high schools by Californians Together, a coalition of education and civil rights groups. From the LA Times:
In a survey of 40 school districts, the study found that the majority of long-term English-language learners are U.S. natives who prefer English and are orally bilingual. But they develop major deficits in reading and writing, fail to achieve the academic English needed for educational success and disproportionately drop out of high school.
Few districts focus on long-term ELs, writes Ed Week’s Mary Ann Zehr.
“The onus is on the elementary schools in particular,” wrote Margarita Calderón, a professor emerita of education and educational research at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, in an e-mail message. “They are the long-term-ELL factories. Middle and high schools simply fold their hands.”
Some of these students are in mainstream classes, where they receive no special help in developing reading and writing skills. Others are stuck in low-level English Language Development classes with new immigrants who are learning the basics. Many don’t realize they’re not proficient in English, the study found. But they’re not likely to succeed in college — which many plan to attend — with weak English skills.
Ventura Unified has moved more long-term ELs to proficiency by providing classes designed for their needs, the report found. The Southern California district created college-prep English Language Development classes for long-term ELs and updates each student on “where he or she stands in achieving English proficiency and meeting state academic standards.”