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Number of English Language Learners on the Rise

Are we doing enough to help ELL students?

edCircuit Breakdown

In Norwalk, CT, the district is seeing remarkable progress for students in their ELL program. According to Superintendent Steven Adamowski, Norwalk has become a district of choice for ELL students, partly because of their success among the district’s ELL students. Several ELL students have become valedictorians recently.

Norwalk is increasing their budget for ELL teaching, which cost approximately 30% more per student than teaching native English speakers. In Idaho, there is a $3.87 million line item in the budget for ELL education, which translates to $210 per student. That is down from $250 per student just two years ago, and lawmakers are hoping to increase the line item number by $1 million.

In Chicago, two students were honored who showed the most improved academic improvement in the Niles Township High School District 219, Niles North junior Joselyne Ramos-Jacobo and Niles West junior Rami Roeil. Both students are products of the school’s ELL program. "Joselyne is a great student," according to ELL teacher Fred Wulfram. "She has shown the drive and desire to learn through her effort in and out of the classroom, and it shows with her consistent great results in all areas of learning: listening, speaking, reading and writing! She is a pleasure to have in class."

edCircuit Analysis

With immigrant population from around the world increasing in many U.S. school districts, the need for effective ELL programs and teachers to run them become magnified. A lack of mastery of the language results in poor performance in school, discouraging kids and often leading to them dropping out.

raised handIn Texas, 52% of all public school students are categorized as Hispanic, and the makeup of Hispanics in the general population is rising. One teacher in Austin sees opportunity in ELL programs to improve standardized test scores in an unexpected subject, math.

Joy Lin, an educator in Austin, and an academic advisor to Sentence Analytics sees otherwise excellent math students get stymied by math questions on tests not because of the mathematics, but because of the wording of the problems. Complex word problems make math tests more of an English test for these kids, and she sees opportunities to improve outcomes through sentence diagramming. “You have to break down the sentence to realize what words are the important verbs or important nouns and what words are just descriptive,” she says. “You're trying to get the essence of what the sentence is saying.”

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This post includes mentions of a partner of MindRocket Media Group the parent company of edCircuit

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