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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Denver Public Schools Is Identifying More Students of Color as Highly Gifted, But Big Disparities Remain

In the second year of an effort to provide students of color greater access to Denver Public Schools' magnet programs for highly gifted students, white and Asian students continue to be over-identified and Hispanic and black students continue to be under-identified. The district did see a small bump in the percentage of black students identified as highly gifted after testing this year. But the percentage of Hispanic students identified — after a sizable jump in the first year of universal testing — stayed flat.

L.A. Unified Is Expanding Beneficial Dual-Language Programs for Preschoolers

The children in Hillary Erlich's expanded transitional kindergarten class at Grand View Boulevard Elementary School in Mar Vista are almost all 4 years old. They are the youngest in the Los Angeles Unified School District to be enrolled in a dual-language program. The district plans to open six or seven more dual-language programs for its youngest students in the fall, said Hilda Maldonado, executive director of L.A. Unified's multilingual and multicultural education department. They'll be taught half in Spanish, half in English.

1 in 4 Syrian Children at Risk of Mental Health Disorders, New Report Says

One in four children in Syria are at risk of developing mental health disorders, according to a new report released by the nonprofit group Save the Children on Monday. Save the Children staff and their local partners interviewed 458 children and adults, and consulted mental health specialists, on the toll Syria's six-year war is having on children. The report, titled "Invisible Wounds," chronicles the day-to-day traumas children there face.

Home Language Survey Tool Aims to Help Schools Better Identify ELLs

A team of researchers has developed a new tool to help educators evaluate the effectiveness of the surveys that schools use to identify English-language learners. The Regional Educational Laboratory's English Language Learners Alliance has created the Home Language Survey Data Quality Self-Assessment to aid state education departments and school districts improve the quality of data collected through home-language surveys—questionnaires used to identify students eligible for special help in learning English—and learn more about how the surveys are administered.

Michelle Obama Surprises D.C. Students, Talks Struggles and Life Goals for Two Hours

When former first lady Michelle Obama walked into a D.C. high school classroom, the stunned students erupted in tears. Obama, who still lives in Washington, made a surprise visit Tuesday to Ballou STAY High School, an alternative public high school, to speak with 14 students for two hours. Upon arriving, she hugged each of them before taking her seat in the circle. The students ranged in age from 16 to 23. Four have children, some live in shelters, and others had been expelled from previous schools. "I think she really just wanted a school and a group of students who are typically counted out to know that they themselves are amazing and wonderful and have the talents that they need to be successful," Principal Cara Fuller said.

High School Club Aims to Make Refugees, Immigrants Welcome

When Israa and her mom moved to the United States, the then-12-year-old girl wondered what her new life and school would be like. Like any young girl moving to a new place, she worried she wouldn't fit in, but this was more than childhood anxiety. She feared that people would not treat her well because she's Muslim. Recently she's been participating in an after-school club, Global Minds, which has empowered her to stand up for herself and other immigrant and refugee students. That's exactly what founder, 15-year-old Peyton Klein, hoped it would do. She started Global Minds as a positive way to counter increasing intolerance nationwide. (You can read more about Global Minds in this profile of Peyton in Teen Vogue.)

Kansas Supreme Court Says State Education Spending Is Too Low

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the state's spending on public education was unconstitutionally low, dealing a new blow to Gov. Sam Brownback, who is facing a rebellion from his own Republican Party over his trademark tax-cutting doctrine. In a unanimous ruling, the court said black, Hispanic and poor students were especially harmed by the lack of funding, pointing to lagging test scores and graduation rates.

How Much Can Schools Protect Undocumented Students?

As the Trump administration aggressively ramps up deportations of undocumented immigrants, some K-12 leaders have pledged to protect the rights and privacy of students who don't have legal immigration status. Some vow schools are "sanctuaries" where educators won't cooperate with authorities to identify or take action against undocumented students and families. But the fast-moving, politically charged situation has also created confusion for educators about what they can and can't do.

Multilingual Matters Conference Stresses Importance of TESOL Teachers

More than 180 school district and school administrators, teachers, teaching assistants and instructional support staff recently spent the day at Niagara University for a Multilingual Matters conference. Among the topics covered during the event were parent engagement, cooperative learning strategies, co-teaching models, instructional technology, and requirements and supports for English language learners.

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