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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Oregon Suspends Use of Spanish-Language Test for ELLs

In her "Learning the Language" blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "Oregon has become the latest state to stop using an alternative test for English-language learners because federal education officials have questioned its comparability with the state's regular test. A number of states have already dropped alternative tests for English-language learners for the same reason. Some educators in Illinois are still upset that the state dropped the use of its simplified English test for ELLs. This is the first time that I've heard of a state having to suspend the use of a Spanish-language test for ELLs."

English as a Second Language Is a Challenge

Cody Xu came to Ridgefield, CT last year when his family moved from China. He was 15, spoke Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, but could only count to 10 and say a few words in English. "I wondered if other students appreciated how well I knew the subject when I'd answer in class," Cody said recently, noting his poor command of English made it impossible for him to fully convey his knowledge. For Cody and other English Language Learners, coming to a new culture with a new language has been a challenge.

For College-Bound, New Barriers to Entry

As public colleges grapple with reductions in state funding, the prospect of reduced access to higher education is looking more likely. Meanwhile, hefty tuition increases are on the drawing boards in many states, while private student lending has shrunk sharply amid a broader credit crunch. Together, the pressures are threatening to restrict access to higher education at a time when the economic crisis is driving more Americans to seek new degrees or additional training, a common reaction in a downturn.

Lessons on Serving Latinos from the Border

Excelencia in Education's latest report stemmed from a simple premise. "Who's enrolling and who's graduating Latino students in this country?" Deborah A. Santiago, vice president for policy and research, asked and answered Thursday at a briefing on the policy group's new report, <em>Accelerating Latino Student Success at Texas Border Institutions: Possibilities and Challenges</em>. The report considers four community colleges and four public universities where Hispanic enrollment tops 75 percent.

Course Breaks Barriers to Language for Non-English Speakers

Since 2002, the number of non-English speakers in the Mississippi's DeSoto County School system has multiplied 10-fold, from 70 to more than 800. And the trend is likely to continue. As a result, the district, which shares a border with Tennessee and is part of the greater Memphis metropolitan area, is embarking on a bold pilot program to integrate English language learners, about 5 percent of the student body of 30,616, into the educational and social mainstream through its Sheltered English Immersion program.

Record 3.1 Million California Kids Getting School Meals

More than 3.1 million California public school students are now enrolled in a school meal program because of their family's poverty status, the state Department of Education said Tuesday. The number of meals served jumped a record 4.5 percent in the last school year, more than four times the average yearly increase. The rate is expected to climb even more steeply this year as families cope with the economic crisis. School districts are feeling the brunt of it, too, as they struggle to feed more kids nutritious meals without more money from the state.

Hispanic Scholars Program Helps Rogers Students

Hispanic students at an Arkansas school district who performed well on standardized tests, but whose families do not speak English at home, can now learn more about the American college and scholarship system. Mark Sparks, Rogers School District deputy superintendent, has started a Hispanic Scholars program to inform students about credits needed for high school graduation, how to apply to colleges, and how to get college scholarships.

Meet Arizona's ELL Teacher of the Year

For Granville Elementary School first- and second-grade English Language Development teacher Susan Jimenez, it's all about the students. So it was fitting that her students were with her Tuesday afternoon when Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne announced Jimenez is the Arizona ELL (English Language Learner) Teacher of the Year.

Advocate of Immigrants Tapped for White House

In her "Learning the Language" blog, Mary Ann Zehr writes, "Cecilia Munoz has been selected to be the director of intergovernmental affairs for Barack Obama's administration, according to <em>The Washington Post</em>. She's now the senior vice president at the National Council of La Raza and was a 2000 MacArthur Foundation 'genius grant' winner. In her new job, she will be in charge of the White House office responsible for relations between the Obama administration and state and local governments."

Squeezed Out: California State University Cuts 10,000

When California State University officials announced the steps it would take to deal with a bleak economic forecast, it didn't take into account the impact those measures will have on students like Horacio Viveros of Sacramento or Lourdes Montes de Oca of Davis. The CSU decided to cut enrollment by 10,000 students next year by using measures that educators believe will harm many of the state's Latino students' chances of attending a four-year university.

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