Long Term English Learners are 62% of all English Learners in Grades 6-12
Los Angeles, Calif. (August 31,2016): Students who have been enrolled in California schools for six years or more as English Learners, are not making adequate progress in learning English and are struggling academically constitute 62% of all the English learners in grades 6-12 according to data released today by the California Department of Education(http://data1.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/SearchName.asp?rbTimeFrame=oneyear&rYear=2015-16&Topic=LC&Level=State&submit1=Submit). As the new school year is beginning, every school and district has been given the data to identify these students, called Long Term English Learners (LTELs), and hopefully will have plans to accelerate their language and academic growth.
The new data furthermore shows that 29% of all English learners who have been in California schools for four or five years are at risk of becoming LTELs with the majority of these students in the lower grades.
According to Laurie Olsen, researcher and author of a report that first called attention to Long Term English Learners six years ago, “this new data adds tremendous urgency to a problem throughout the state. LTELs are students who despite having been in our schools for years, haven’t been given the support to learn English adequately to be able to succeed academically. Their life-chances are compromised by a schooling system that isn’t responding to their needs. In the wake of state test scores released earlier this month that showed a widening gap for English Learners, hopefully the new LTEL data will spur state and local action to invest in the programs and services we know can make a difference.”
California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) has granted schools and districts funding to strategically address the needs of English learners as one of the student subgroups that have been historically underserved. LTELs and students at risk of becoming LTELs should be at the core of LCFF investments in instructional and programmatic improvements if these students are to graduate and become college and career ready. Without any additional support, research shows that these students are more likely to drop out
For the short term, Californians Together calls upon the state, the county offices of education, the districts and schools to use this data to respond to the legal mandate of the LCFF to provide “increased or improved services and programs” for English learners. The plans that districts write documenting how they will spend their budgets needs to be explicit about how they will yearly reduce the numbers of LTELs and students at risk and what specialized instruction and programs they will implement.
“The real goal for California’s schools and district should be to guarantee that no English Learner becomes a Long Term English Learner. There are research-based models and documented successful practices to provide districts with the direction they need to serve and prevent students from becoming LTELs. Each school and district should commit to assessing their current EL programs and investing in what we know works,” said Xilonin Cruz Gonzalez, president of Californians Together.
Californians Together is a statewide coalition of 25 parent, teacher, education advocacy and civil rights groups committed to improving policy and practice for educating the state’s 1.4 million English Learners. Since 2001, Californians Together, a nonprofit organization, has served as a clarion voice on behalf of language minority students in California public schools