When all of our voices are heard, English Learners and their families win. Friday, September 7, 2018, Governor Brown signed AB 2735 (O’Donnell) into law prohibiting English Learner students from being denied enrollment in core curriculum courses, courses required for high school graduation or courses for purposes of recognition for college admission, such as advanced placement or honors courses.
With the Governor’s signature, we’ve reached an important step in ensuring all English Learners have access to a full curriculum. The law takes effect on January 1, 2019. We will keep you posted as to how information on these new requirements will be disseminated. Thank you for taking the time to respond to our Action Alerts.
The State Board of Education voted unanimously yesterday to include the State Seal of Biliteracy to qualify for the Career and College Indicator without the additional criteria of scoring “met standards” on the SBAC math assessment. Now students will not only be recognized by the state for their proficiency in English and another language but also as College and Career ready.
Your advocacy by sending a letter to Dr. Michael Kirst, SBE President and Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, made all the difference. Hearing from educators and EL advocates across the state was critical. Thank you for taking the time to send a letter and securing the votes needed to promote good state policy.
We want to thank each of you for sending letters a few weeks ago to get AB 2514 (Thurmond) out of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Our voices were heard and the bill passed out of committee unanimously with a bipartisan vote. Your help is now needed to convince Governor Brown to sign AB 2514 (Thurmond) Dual Language Grant Programs into law.
AB 2514 (Thurmond) proposes to provide up to $300,000 in grant funding to eligible schools, county offices of education and consortia so they can either expand or initiate new dual language immersion or developmental bilingual programs. What’s exciting about this bill is that grant funding would also be given to eligible schools, county offices of education, or consortia interested in establishing bilingual programs for their dual language learners in preschools!
Although no funding was allocated in this year’s budget, the signing of AB 2514 by the Governor will allow us to pursue funding next year in the 2019-2020 state budget. The bill is very clear in stating that its provisions will not be implemented if no funding is appropriated.
Letters must be sent to Governor Brown to convince him that the public and members of the education community seek his support to keep the promise of Proposition 58 by promoting and supporting dual language immersion and developmental bilingual programs.
My recent visit to Cahuenga Elementary School in Los Angeles gave me a glimpse of what California’s future could be if we seize the opportunity to expand the teaching of world languages.
At Cahuenga, beginning in kindergarten, many students learn Korean or Spanish along with English, while learning about Korean and Latin culture through music, dance, theater and literature. These dual-language immersion programs, like 400 others in California public schools, put students on the path to fluency in two or more languages.
Numerous studies show that fluency in another language boosts students’ mental flexibility and enhances their ability to learn all subjects, including their native language.
Bilingual students have to switch back and forth between languages, which helps them develop strong attention control and skills that help them academically and socially. They often understand language structures better than their single-language peers, giving them a potential advantage in reading and writing.
Learning a foreign language introduces students to new cultures, giving them a broad perspective that helps prepare them for the global economy. Bilingual students are in high demand and generally earn slightly higher salaries once they enter the workforce.
This exciting research inspired me to launch Global California 2030, which seeks to double the number of world language classes taught in California schools, more than double the number of bilingual teachers authorized each year and more than triple the number of graduating high school students who receive a state seal of biliteracy on their diplomas. Perhaps most importantly, it seeks to quadruple the number of dual language immersion programs to 1,600 by 2030.
In 2016, California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 58 and removed outdated barriers to setting up dual immersion programs, signaling clearly that they want more such programs.
Yet these programs are so scarce, parents sometimes have to win a lottery to enroll their child. That needs to change. Every parent should have the opportunity to let their child learn a second language at an early age.
That’s why I support Assembly Bill 2514, which is currently pending in the Legislature. This bill, introduced by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, provides 10 grants of $300,000 to local districts to help them set up dual-language immersion programs, developmental bilingual programs for English learners, or early learning dual language programs.
I am urging educators, parents and community leaders to join my efforts to pass this legislation and to enact the broader goals of Global California 2030. Fluency in two languages helps our students succeed academically, socially and economically, while strengthening the rich mixture of heritages and languages that help California stay a global economic and cultural leader.
Tom Torlakson is state Superintendent of Public Instruction. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Accountability System Obscures English Learners’ Unique Needs
Study of local plans identifies key improvements to fix the system
Sacramento, CA – August 14, 2018 – Californians Together is releasing a new report today entitled Masking the Focus on English Learners which questions the efficacy of the state accountability system in identifying the needs of English Learners accurately. The report states that by combining data from two English Learner subgroups (current and reclassified), the system masks the distinct needs of each subgroup and diminishes the urgency to address the numerous educational needs of current English Learners thus undermining the central equity intent of the Local Control Funding Formula. The report’s strongest recommendation is that the state discontinue aggregating the two subgroups and instead report them separately for analysis and planning.
“There is great potential for California school districts to be misled by the results of the combined EL subgroup on the Dashboard. The decision to combine this data from two student groups with distinct language and academic profiles masks and impedes districts from addressing their distinct academic needs” said researcher and co-author, Dr. Magaly Lavadenz.
The report also states that the system largely misses the mark in identifying research-based programs, actions, and services for English Learners.
Key findings presented in the report include:
- Despite all 24 districts being rated at the two lowest levels for English Learner performance, only 6 mentioned a concern for achievement in English Language Arts and only 1 specified a concern for their overall achievement.
- Minimal attention was paid to analysis of English Learner outcomes
- Course access and targeted services were inconsistently provided to current English Learners
- Minimal specific professional development was offered to teachers of English Learners.
“Obscuring current English Learner results has detrimental effects on districts’ abilities to address goals in local plans, set growth targets, focus program, and services and allocate funds for this group of students. We call on the State Board of Education to rectify this accountability policy in order to ensure every English Learner can best be served,” said Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, Executive Director of Californians Together.
The study was conducted in collaboration with the Center for Equity for English Learners at Loyola Marymount University and reviewed local plans for 24 school districts that serve 23% of California’s English Learners.
You can view and download the report at www.californianstogether.org
# # #