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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Testing Change Raises Scores

A switch in testing for students who are learning English fueled a rebound in scores this year for immigrant-rich schools in Northern Virginia that had failed the year before to meet targets set under the federal No Child Left Behind law. Scores dipped last year when the federal government for the first time required Virginia school systems to give English learners the same reading tests as classmates who speak English fluently, a mandate that local educators vehemently opposed as unfair.

Dual Language Program in NC Speaks to Students

For some students at McDougle Middle School, walking into a history class taught completely in Spanish is not as intimidating as it sounds. It's a normal day for students entering into the new dual language program at the Chapel Hill school. "It's a very popular program," said Neil Pedersen, superintendent of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Pedersen said initially the native English-speaking students learn slower in the dual language program, but they excel by the end of elementary school.

Sixty Languages Converge in Classroom

In Meg Lawrence's classroom, children speak Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai and Telugu daily. "The key word in teaching is differentiation: Teaching has to be differentiated for different kinds of learners," said Lawrence, one of two English as a Second Language teachers at Chapel Hill's Seawell Elementary School. With students from countries across the globe speaking what she said is about 60 different languages, Lawrence has a lot of differentiating to do.

Initiative Could Hurt Non-English Speaking Students

A measure on the Nov. 4 ballot could make Oregon one of a handful of states with a cap on the amount of time spent teaching English-language learners in their native tongue and could curtail or end two-way language immersion programs such as those in Jackson County's Phoenix-Talent School District. Measure 58 (Initiative Petition 19) would limit the time non-English speakers receive instruction in their native language to one year for grades kindergarten through four, one-and-a-half years for grades five through eight and two years for high school grades

Districts Struggle to Serve Changing Population

Federal Judge Robert W. Gettleman's decision last week to grant class-action status to Illinois' Elgin Area School District U-46 racial bias lawsuit indicates that a new language is being spoken in civil rights cases. Along with claims of overcrowding and busing minority students, the lawsuit accuses the state's second largest school district of failing to provide adequate services for English language learners.

Arizona School District and College Open Doors to Students

Summer officially ended for students young and old Monday as Yuma Elementary School District 1 and Arizona Western College started a new school year. Lara Dinsmore, an eighth-grade reading instructor, noted Woodard Junior High School is placing more emphasis on reading this year, especially with the "high point curriculum," which is a more structured discipline aimed at ELL students.

Kindergartners Counting to Ten — in Spanish

After just a few days at Kentucky's Russell Cave Elementary, kindergartner T.J. Slone can identify several colors and count to 10 — in Spanish. The 5-year-old is one of 62 kindergartners enrolled in a new dual-language immersion program at Russell Cave. While one class is learning math, science and language arts in English, the other is learning all those concepts in Spanish.

Raza Studies Director Defends Controversial Program

Augustine F. Romero is senior director of Tucson Unified School District's Mexican American/Raza Studies Department. The $2.6 million program has recently come under attack from state school Superintendent Tom Horne, who believes it to be racially divisive and hypercritical of American history and culture. Horne wants the program halted. This article contains excerpts from an interview last week in which Romero defended the program and its benefits for 1,700 students.

Two English-Language Learner Programs Come Under Fire

Last month, a Texas court ordered the Texas Education Agency to overhaul the state's bilingual education system, citing low test scores and high dropout rates. In Seattle, an outside review of that public school district's program for immigrant students was deemed weak and in need of restructuring. The program, the evaluators said, "is ad hoc, incoherent and directionless," the Seattle Times reported.

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