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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When You Barely Speak English, Even a Math Test Is Baffling

Maryam Rahmatillayeva, a usually cheerful fifth-grader from Uzbekistan, knows how to use a computer mouse and can read some English. But the question she faced recently on a practice Idaho Standards Achievement Test in math stumped her nonetheless. "Which is the best estimate of how long a basketball game lasts?" was the query. The possible answers: one minute, one hour, 10 minutes, 10 hours. Maryam didn't know. "I not play basketball," she said. She frowned at the screen for a while and then made a guess so she could move on to the next question. She picked 10 minutes.

Proposed ELL Interpretation Would Require More Standardization

Friday's <em>Federal Register</em> contains a proposed "interpretation" of the No Child Left Behind Act that, if put into effect, will require states to make some big changes in their policies regarding English-language learners. One of the biggest changes that I see is that states will have to use the same criteria for deciding when English-language learners exit from programs as they use to determine if students have attained proficiency in English for reporting purposes under accountability provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.

In Tuition Aid Rules, Immigration Debate Meets Reality

As the immigration debate continues to evolve, some states are denying children of undocumented immigrants government grants and tuition loans offered to low-income students to help pay for college. Lee Hochberg reports on how undocumented students are coping.

Win for Bilingual Education

In what some hailed as "a victory" for kids who are still learning English, a federal judge Thursday ordered 100 principals to answer written questions about what kind of services they are providing to hundreds of Chicago public school students in bilingual education programs. The ruling came after federal and civil rights attorneys demanded action on a 2007 report indicating some English language learners (most of them Latino) have been taught in hallways or on auditorium stages, pulled from class to act as translators, or denied special education services.

Education Fund for Latin American Baseball Players Quietly Changes Lives

As major league baseball pulses to an ever stronger salsa beat, most fans see only the rising number of Latin Americans among the batting leaders and in All-Star Games. They do not see the other 95 percent — the anonymous Caribbean teenagers who sign professional contracts, spend years languishing in the minor leagues and return to their homelands without an education. A virtually unknown stockbroker from San Jose, CA, however, has spent 25 years as a silent baseball benefactor. Don Odermann has arranged and financed scholarships for more than 100 young players from Caribbean countries to attend colleges in the United States.

Chicago Schools Punching up Their Foreign Language Programs in the Name of Globalism

Chicago Public Schools will expand its foreign language curriculum next year, teaching more students Chinese and Arabic and launching Russian in several schools, officials announced Wednesday. The expansion, which will be paid for by cuts in other parts of the budget, will allow officials to hire about 15 new language teachers for 15 schools.

California Senate Approves Bonus Plan to Draw Experienced Teachers to Struggling Schools

Legislators on Thursday advanced proposals to help poor-performing schools attract experienced teachers despite opposition from teachers unions. The proposal, which will now go to the Assembly, addresses concerns that students at the worst-performing schools are more likely to have science and math teachers who are on emergency credentials or who lack the training, experience, and specialization to teach the subjects effectively, according to state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), author of the measure. She said students at such schools are disproportionately Latino and African American.

English Language Learners Programs Grow Quickly in Kansas

Itzel Negrete and Rukiya Yusuf use a laptop to fine-tune the PowerPoint presentations they'll present for their parents at their elementary school in Kansas. The fourth-graders, students in the school's English Language Learners program, are working on the same kind of assignment that their mainstream peers get, but with an interesting wrinkle: Itzel, a native of Mexico, and Rukiya, a Somalian, will present their work in a new language.

Citizenship Lesson From the Top

They impressed him with their knowledge of President Bush's Cabinet and ability to give numerous examples illustrating the U.S. system of checks and balances. But it was their tough questions — "Why can't legal immigrants have the right to vote?" and "If immigrants are so important, why are some being sent back out of the country?" — that really got Alfonso Aguilar's attention. Aguilar, chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship, met with 30 teenage immigrants yesterday at Maryland's Gaithersburg High School for a 90-minute civics lesson and question-and-answer session in which the students took full advantage of their right to hold their government officials accountable.

ESOL Teacher Training Rules May Stay the Same

The Florida House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed a compromise that preserves much of the special training for reading teachers of students learning English — but the compromise so displeased the bill's Senate sponsor, who hopes to reduce the number of training hours required, that he promised to let it die without a vote in his chamber. The changes were prompted because some reading teachers have complained about the 300 hours of training needed to work with students learning English, but other teachers have said the special lessons are useful.