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ELL News

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Throughout the week, Colorín Colorado gathers news headlines related to English language learners from around the country. The ELL Headlines are posted Monday through Friday and are available for free!

ELL News Updates

Note: These links may expire after a week or so, and some websites require you to register first before seeing an article. Colorín Colorado does not necessarily endorse these views or any others on these outside web sites.

Will ‘creative’ and ‘hands on’ summer school foster a love of learning?

The Hechinger Report

August 29, 2014

Students in the Santa Ana Unified school district in Orange Country, California tackled very different challenges during their summer school programs, but they shared a common experience. Their classes were individually crafted by teachers in a first-of-its kind program for the district, in which 90 percent of students come from low-income families and about half are learning English. Educators wanted to create classes where students chose their own activities, worked on projects with classmates and where presentations and performances, not tests, demonstrated achievement — all with an eye to inspiring those most at risk of falling behind during the summer to learn. The result: classes that engaged 4,000 elementary and middle school students in hands-on activities such as dissecting cow eyes; handling worms, snails and pill bugs; designing theater sets and costumes and holding performances for the community; researching global warming solutions; taking field trips to zoos and museums; and delivering PowerPoint presentations on their findings.

How to Get Kids to Class

The New York Times

August 29, 2014

For the 16 million American children living below the federal poverty line, the start of a new school year should be reason to celebrate. Summer is no vacation when your parents are working multiple jobs or looking for one. Many kids are left to fend for themselves in neighborhoods full of gangs, drugs and despair. Given the hardships at home, poor kids might be expected to have the best attendance records, if only for the promise of a hot meal and an orderly classroom. But it doesn’t usually work out that way. According to the education researchers Robert Balfanz and Vaughan Byrnes at Johns Hopkins, children living in poverty are by far the most likely to be chronically absent from school (which is generally defined as missing at least 10 percent of class days each year).

NEISD (San Antonio) expands dual language program

News 4 San Antonio (TX)

August 29, 2014

The demand is so great for dual language programs Northeast Independent School District is adding the bilingual programs in two of its middle schools for the first time. After talking with parents whose 5th graders were in the dual language programs at 4 elementary schools, N.E.I.S.D. officials say more than a 100 parents wanted their children to continue on with the program in middle school. The district made that happen this year and have started the dual language programs at Garner and Eisenhower Middle Schools. At this point students who have been enrolled in the dual language classes since kindergarten are now polishing up their bilingual skills. This enrichment program combines Spanish speakers with English speakers

More Research on Precisely What Works for English Language Learners

Ed Central

August 28, 2014

If we know that access to a particular high-quality public pre-K program is particularly beneficial for dual language learners, the next step is to figure out the specific characteristics that make it work. Cue new research from one of the regional labs in the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences: "The Correlates of Academic Performance for English Language Learner Students in a New England District." While it’s not directed specifically at early education, the study does offer analysis of how well various language support programs support ELLs’ academic performance.

iPads, Books, and Cardboard Boxes: ‘Comienza en Casa’ in Maine

Ed Central

August 28, 2014

In the rural town of Milbridge, Maine, visiting with several families whose primary home language was Spanish, I saw example after example of creative, intentional use of new technologies for language learning. Not only were the children excited and engaged in learning, but their parents were confident in guiding them to these learning opportunities using new technologies.

Florida Officials Will Fight Feds Over Testing of English-Language Learners

Education Week

August 28, 2014

Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined state education Commissioner Pam Stewart and Miami-Dade County schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho today in calling for the U.S. Department of Education to back down from its decision that the state must include test results for its newest English-language learners in its accountability system.

Note: This links to content from Education Week. You can register for free to access 10 Education Week stories a month, or subscribe for unlimited access.

Research on Making Policy Reforms Work for Dual Language Learners

Ed Central

August 27, 2014

Many advocates concerned with dual language learners' (DLLs) linguistic and academic development have focused their attention on getting lawmakers to enshrine the importance of native language instruction for these students. New research, published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, spotlights the issue. The study explores a “two-way dual language” program in a first grade Texas classroom. This model enrolls DLLs and native English-speaking students together in a classroom where instruction is delivered both in English and in the DLLs’ home language. Ideally, the model supports bilingualism for both groups of students.

Access to Technology for Immigrant Students

KQED Mindshift

August 27, 2014

School administrators are looking to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies as a way to bring technology resources in the community to bear in the classroom when there is little funding for school-owned devices. We are examining how three different teachers in three completely different communities — urban, rural, and immigrant — are dealing with BYOD issues, including trust, equity, and what happens when teachers try to put student-centered learning in the hands of students who’ve never experienced it.

English language learners hold steady on MCAs

Minneapolis Star Tribune

August 27, 2014

Minnesota students who are learning to speak English held steady on both the math and reading portions of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, which were released today. In math, 29 percent of students in grades 3-8 are proficient and 16 percent in grades 3, 8 and 10 are proficient in reading, according to those test results. The scores were unchanged from the previous year. At first blush, that might not sound like good news. But consider this. Last year, that subgroup of students had a free fall on the reading test, dropping 20 percentage points. Those declines were seen across the board, a consequence of tough, new standards on which students were tested. But English language learners easily experienced the biggest drop. So steady is good news.

One Unaccompanied Minor's Story: 12-Year-Old David from Honduras

Education Week

August 26, 2014

Who among us can actually fathom a child, our child, trekking more than 3,000 miles in the company only of other children? Only mothers like Dilma, 29, whose 12-year-old son David recently made the treacherous journey from San Pedro Sula, in northwestern Honduras, to the U.S.-Mexico border. His travelmates were three other boys who weren't even his friends. Just acquaintances, his mother said, but the oldest one, at 17, had a map that would guide them to Texas.

Note: This links to content from Education Week. You can register for free to access 10 Education Week stories a month, or subscribe for unlimited access.

Graduation rates for black and Hispanic students at minority-serving institutions

Journalist's Resource

August 26, 2014

The United States is home to 106 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), institutions created to educate black students in the eras of slavery and Jim Crow. In addition to HBCUs, Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) represent another category of minority-serving institution. HSIs, which number in the hundreds, have student bodies that are at least 25% Latino and typically serve low-income students. Minority-serving institutions often fare poorly on measures of student outcomes. A white paper from the College Board reports that the average six-year graduation rate for students at HSIs was 35% in 2008 compared to a national average of 40% for Latino students at all colleges.

This School Year Let’s Stop Chronic Absenteeism from Occurring

Go Local Worcester (MA)

August 26, 2014

Research continues to show that attendance at all ages is exceedingly important and as mentioned is correlated to student success and graduation rates. Many times parents think my child is only in the kindergarten so if they miss school for a week what’s all fuss about? Well, researcher Hedy Chang found that when students are chronically absent (Absent 10% of the school year or over 18 times during the year) during the kindergarten years that the students perform lower academically in first grade. This is true “regardless of gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.” According to the report it is especially strong for Latino children who had a much lower first grade reading scores if they were chronically absent in the kindergarten. The report also showed that children living in poverty suffer more academically when they miss school during the early years. Among poor children, chronic absence in the early grades predicts the lowest levels of achievement at the end of fifth grade.

Houston Independent School District expands dual language program

ABC 13 (Houston, TX)

August 25, 2014

As hundreds of thousands of kids head to school today, some will also be a part of program that continues to expand and immerse them in a totally new world. HISD's dual language program continues to be a highlight, doubling from 14 to 28 schools this year. The program's goal is to expose more children to a different language in a full day setting, everyday throughout the year, in a whole new way. It's become so popular, there is now a waiting list just to get into this program.

Inspiring Latino youth at MANOS

Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

August 25, 2014

The years spent in middle school and high school are challenging for most youth. But for Latino youth, who are often the children of recent immigrants, the challenges can be overwhelming. Many Latino families face isolation due to language and cultural barriers, and many times these Latino middle- and high-school students serve as the connectors between their family and the community. Norma Brown, the Latino Outreach Coordinator for Children First/Communities In Schools and students from the Bonner Leader Service Learning program at Warren Wilson College collaborated to create a new program called Mentoring and Nurturing Our Students. Each week Warren Wilson students lead the Latino youth in community and civic engagement activities, assist them with homework and help them prepare for college.

How to Sell Diverse Books: A Bookstore Owner's Advice

National Public Radio

August 25, 2014

Earlier this summer, the campaign "We Need Diverse Books" caused a stir when it underscored that fewer than 8 percent of children's books published last year were written by or about people of color. But beyond the industry's gatekeepers, we wanted to find out what is happening in local communities, in the shelves and reading circles of neighborhood bookstores. Audie Cornish, host of All Things Considered, talked with Elizabeth Bluemle, the co-owner of the Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vt.

A New Majority in K-12

Education Week

August 22, 2014

The 2014-15 academic year is projected to be the first in which African-American, Asian, Latino, and Native American students together will outnumber non- Hispanic whites in K-12 public schools. Growth in the Hispanic population is expected to propel the trend of a rising share of nonwhite students through the next decade. [Infographics]

Note: This links to content from Education Week. You can register for free to access 10 Education Week stories a month, or subscribe for unlimited access.

ELL spells 'success' for English-learning students

Telegram (Worcester, MA)

August 22, 2014

Summer school might sound like punishment to most kids, particularly middle schoolers. But a group of Worcester students spent six weeks this summer in academic classes and loved it so much they're begging to come back. The students are English-language learners, students for whom English is not their first language, and the program is named after them: ELL. More than 50 Worcester students opted to spend six weeks, five days a week learning English, reading, writing and speaking, as well as interacting with their peers from all over the world, to improve their English-language skills.

Leestown Middle School program offers students dual-language STEM, arts curriculum

Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)

August 22, 2014

Leestown Middle School student Sandra Juarez said just months ago, she didn't know much about tablets and computers. But now Sandra, 13, said, "I really have a big passion for technology. ... I want to be an engineer." Sandra, an eighth-grader, acquired a new set of skills through LSTEAM, a new program launched at her middle school. The idea for the program was inspired by Bryan Station High School, where some science, engineering, aviation and advanced arts courses are taught by native Spanish speakers. Evans said he saw a need to provide Latino students, including those whose first language is Spanish, with a rigorous dual-language STEM and arts curriculum.

ELLs to Keep Increasing as K-12 Schools Cross 'Majority-Minority' Threshold

Education Week

August 21, 2014

The 2014-15 school year—officially underway in many districts—is expected to be the one in which the nation's K-12 population enters a new era: White students will no longer constitute the majority of public schoolchildren in the United States. Of course, this demographic milestone will remain a projection until we have official school census data that will take the federal government many months to collect and report. But it's still a significant moment in time that raises a whole range of challenges and opportunities for educators.

Note: This links to content from Education Week. You can register for free to access 10 Education Week stories a month, or subscribe for unlimited access.

Changes Considered to Boost Gains for Arizona's 69K English Language Learners

AZ Education News

August 21, 2014

As more English Language Learners are reclassified as proficient and more schools earn letter-grade points for that, Arizona education leaders are considering changes to increase students’ academic growth and boost high school graduation rates, essential parts of state’s school accountability system. One pressing concern is how the four-hour block of intensive English instruction in reading, writing, grammar and conversation affects high school ELL students.