ELL News Headlines

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!

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English-Learners and Reclassification: Principals Play Pivotal Role, Study Finds

Principals have the power to ensure English-language learners get an equitable education, but many don't realize how much influence they wield, a new study on school leadership concludes. The study, led by researchers from Michigan State University and Old Dominion University, examined how principals empower or impede equity through their leadership during decisionmaking about English-learner reclassification — the process schools use to determine when, and if, English-learners are deemed proficient in the language and no longer need specialized instruction.

California Schools Help Unaccompanied Immigrant Students Combat Trauma, Language Barriers

More than 200,000 children and youth under 18 have crossed the U.S. border without their parents since 2014.  In their new communities, teachers, counselors and district leaders have had to come up with a diverse array of strategies to help them overcome a daunting set of obstacles to finish high school. Many students have survived severe trauma in their home countries, or missed years of school. If they are 16 or older, they only have a few years to learn English and catch up on math or literacy. Often, they have to work to send money home or pay rent. At the same time, these students have skills that teachers can build upon to help them succeed: in addition to Spanish, many also speak an indigenous language; some have years of work experience in their home countries; and, having traveled so far and endured so much, they are often determined to succeed.

How Bibliotherapy Can Help Students Open Up About Their Mental Health

Getting teenagers to speak about their problems can be challenging, especially when they feel like outsiders and worry about judgment from their peers. That is why Anita Cellucci, a school librarian at Westborough High School in Westborough, Massachusetts, developed an alternative way to support struggling students at the school. Cellucci and school counselor Ceil Parteleno began a six-week group specifically targeted to students who had experienced trauma and loss. Drawing upon Cellucci’s knowledge and love of books, and Parteleno’s expertise as a counselor, the pair began a unique school-based support group, using storytelling and literature as a way to help kids understand and cope with their emotions. This kind of support is known as bibliotherapy.

Music as a Common Language: A Md. Teacher Reaches Students With Ethiopian Songs

Fifteen first-graders encircled one of their classmates on a colorful rug in a Maryland classroom, trilling a children’s song in a language unfamiliar to most of them. They sang along as they played an Ethiopian children’s game that requires a student in the center to twirl with eyes closed and point to another classmate at the end, until each youngster has a chance in the middle. The students at Oakland Terrace Elementary in Silver Spring sang in Amharic, the official language of Ethi­o­pia, and they were learning from a curriculum designed specially for them by their music teacher, Anna Harris.

D.C. Will Offer Up to $725 Per Person to Help Residents Seeking U.S. Citizenship

The District will offer up to $725 to city employees and residents who are trying to become U.S. citizens, the mayor’s office said Monday. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said in a statement Monday the District awarded the National Immigration Forum, a nonprofit advocate for immigrants, a $100,000 grant to provide financial support to residents, employees and their families, the statement said.

Study: Researchers Weigh Benefits of Repeating 3rd Grade for Struggling English-Learners

Learning to read is widely considered the bridge to later academic success. In hopes of ensuring that success, more than a dozen states, including Florida, require students to pass a reading test to advance to the 4th grade. While studies have questioned the effectiveness of retaining students to reach that goal, a pair of researchers has found that immigrant English-language learners in the Sunshine State benefitted from the extra year of school and exposure to the language. The researchers argue that the potential risks of stigmatization and extra cost to the school district are worth it if schools boost the graduation prospects of more English-learners and spend less on remedial education classes down the line.

Superintendents Sang Their Snow Day Announcements. Who Did It Best?

As life-endangering winter weather held a large swath of the United States in its grip, schools were shut down in many communities. Making the decision to close schools for weather can be one of the most thankless parts of a superintendent's job (someone is always unhappy and second-guessing), but some Midwestern schools chiefs who had to shut down this week decided to have a little fun.

Ed Dept. Toolkit Offers Guidance for English-Learner, Immigrant Parents

The U.S. Department of Education's office of English-language acquisition has released the first portion of a guide designed to answer questions that families with English-learner students may have about public schools in the United States. Colorín Colorado, a site for educators and families of English-learners, has also published a guide on how schools and early childhood centers can support immigrant students and families.