ELL News Headlines

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A record number of kids now attend public preschool, so why has inequality grown?

While a record number of states are providing public preschool, 43 plus Washington D.C. and Guam, inequality has grown over the last decade, as access to pre-K and the quality of the programs themselves vary significantly from state to state. A total of 1.5 million children, including 32 percent of 4-year-olds and 5 percent of 3-year-olds, were enrolled in preschool this past year. Several states are now offering or moving towards universal pre-K, which serve all kids regardless of income, including Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, District of Columbia, New York, Iowa, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Maine. Seven states provided no state-funded preschool programs and eight states continued to enroll fewer than 5 percent of 4-year-olds. "In essence, because some states are moving so far ahead, your ZIP code matters way more than it did in 2000," said Dr. W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, adding that, "It's good news for some children and bad news for others."

Path to Mastering English? Schools Say Students' Home Language Is Key

Shakopee teacher Amanda Marek said it all started when her school district noticed a problem: some of the district's students who grew up speaking Spanish were not doing very well in Spanish class. They were also falling behind in classes taught in English. So Shakopee started a class called Spanish for Native Speakers.

How Much Foreign Language Is Being Taught in U.S. Schools?

A first-of-its-kind national survey sought to examine the state of foreign language education in primary and secondary schools, but found a striking "lack of knowledge about foreign language teaching and learning." Coming on the heels of an American Academy of Arts & Sciences report that concluded that the United States —with its mostly monolingual residents —could face social and economic disadvantages in an increasingly multilingual, global society, the surveyors were only able to collect data from 44 percent of the nation's high school and 38 percent of K-8 schools.

Colorado Wants More Bilingual Workers, Creates High School 'Seal of Biliteracy'

One state is signaling the growing importance of bilingual skills by touting its young people who are fluent in more than one language. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper recently signed into law a bipartisan bill establishing a Seal of Biliteracy program, which recognizes high school graduates who are proficient in a second language. The legislation takes effect during the 2017-18 school year, and school district participation is voluntary.

When Schools Meet Trauma with Understanding, Not Discipline

If you know anything about New Orleans public schools, you probably know this: Hurricane Katrina wiped them out and almost all the schools became privately run charters. The thing is, students across New Orleans face high rates of exposure to trauma, but school discipline policies have rarely accounted for that. Crocker College Prep is now one of five New Orleans charter schools in a collective to become more trauma-informed. That means Crocker aims to account for the social, emotional and behavioral needs of all students, and their lives outside of school.

‘This country has been amazing for us’: From Refugee Camp, to Cornell, to a Rhodes Scholarship

One morning early in his freshman year at Cornell University, Ahmed Ahmed got a writing assignment back, flipped it over and stared at the letter in shock: C+. He went to his biology class, where the professor displayed a large graph showing the distribution of the grades for the exam, for which, like the writing assignment, Ahmed had studied really hard. The average was 85, with a very small deviation. He got his exam, turned it over: 69. He walked quickly to a lake near campus, wiping away tears. Even with his always-laughing, perennially optimistic personality, Ahmed couldn’t help but realize that despite everything he had done to earn a spot at Cornell, and how much a degree from the Ivy League school could transform his own life and his family’s, hard work might not be enough.

Boston Program Supports Male Educators of Color

The push in the nation's school districts to staff classrooms with more males of color has become increasingly urgent. In 2014, students of color became the majority demographic group in public schools, yet only 2 percent of U.S. teachers are Latino men, fewer than 2 percent are black men, and just half a percent are Asian men. Boston Public Schools wants to advance the effort to recruit teachers who reflect the student body and make sure they remain in the system.

Award-Winning High School Senior Says Struggling With Language Pushed Her to Write

Zainab Adisa's love for writing blossomed in high school, but it took her some time to get there. She spent several years in elementary school in English as a second language classes. Adisa was born in the United States, but her family immigrated from Nigeria. Her family spoke Yoruba at home, which made learning English challenging, she said.  The senior at Pittsburgh Creative and Preforming Arts school was recently awarded the Gold Medal Portfolio scholarship from National Scholastic for her poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing. She was one of only 16 students in the country to receive the award out of more than 330,000 applicants.

In Oklahoma, Special Graduation Celebrates Achievements of English-Language Learner Students

For families who don't speak English at home, high school graduations can be a time of stress and confusion, especially with language and cultural barriers. To help address these issues, U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, held a commencement tailored for families of English-language learner students in its "newcomer" program last week with the majority of the event conducted in Spanish with Arabic and French translators on hand.