Advocacy Alert: April 1, 2013
Hearing of the Joint Committee on Education Tuesday April 9, 2013 9am-1pm at the Massachusetts State House.
- An Act Relative to Enhancing English Opportunities for all Students in the Commonwealth H479 (Sanchez) / S225 (DiDomenico)
- An Act to Promote Global Trade and Economic Development Through Dual Language and Biliteracy H533 (Walz) / S 270 (Spilka)
English Language Learners (ELLs) are students whose native language is not English and who are not able to perform schoolwork in English. They make up 7.7% of the total state student population.
Language instructional educational programs are designed to assist ELLs in developing oral comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing of English, and in academic content achievement.
These bill would enhance opportunities for success by:
Increasing the flexibility of schools to implement diverse, research-based, and innovative programs, especially by requiring schools with significant ELL student populations to offer more than the basic ESOL programming.
Increasing parental involvement in their child’s learning with visits, conferences, committees, and parents’ choice of curriculum.
Holding schools accountable for meeting academic standards under the State and Federal curriculum framework, and requiring districts to have an annual student evaluation of individualized success plans and program extension as necessary.
Certifying and training all educators who are in contact with ELLs (including administrators).
Awarding the Seal of Biliteracy to recognize High School students who have attained proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in two languages and in all content areas, further preparing them to meet the demands of the skills for the 21st Century workforce.
Concerns about ELL Education
There is a widening achievement gap:
- ELLs are far more likely to drop out of high school (31.2% versus 19.7% of English Proficient students).
- For those who do graduate, the four-year graduation rate for ELLs is 57.5% compared to 83% for EPs.
- There has been an over-enrollment of ELLs into special-education programs, which underscores potential problems in the identification and assessment of ELLs.
Across the state, the vast majority (94.2%) of ELL students is enrolled in Sheltered English Immersion (SEI), which is the default program under current law. This program mandates that ELLs be taught only in English, with the native language used minimally and only when necessary. However, the concentration into one type of program does not address the varying needs of individual students. Only about 20% of ELLs achieved Level 5 on the Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment (MEPA), which indicates effective communication in English.
How can you support the bill?
TESTIFY AT THE HEARING
Give testimony on why you support a change in the English Language Learner system. Contact MATSOL at firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend.
SUBMIT WRITTEN TESTIMONY
You can submit written testimony to the Chairs of the committee and cc: your State Senator and State Representative. Please also send a copy of your testimony to MATSOL at email@example.com.
Call the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Education and your State Senator and State Representative to urge them to support the bill.
- Find your state Representative or Senator: www.wheredoivote.ma
- Contact information for the chairs and members of the Joint Committee on Education: malegislature.gov/Committees/Joint/J14