Education Policy

English Language Learner Education

Public schools have a responsibility to educate all students who enter their doors. This naturally includes children who arrive at school speaking a language other than English. Many educators have the training and skills they need to help students learn English while they are also learning English. But in far too many schools, they do not. As a result, English language learners struggle to succeed.

The New ELL Toolkit – Potentially a Great Resource… but Beware of Misuse
The U.S. Department of Education recently released a new, comprehensive English Learner Toolkit, which is a compilation of the latest research findings, current policy and resources or “tools,” such as sample surveys and assessments, for districts and schools to use in addressing the educational needs of their English learners. When used in its entirety, the kit will be a great new resource for districts and schools to provide a quality education for English learners as required. But, the toolkit also may be misused to justify practices that do not protect the civil rights of English learners or that promote detrimental programs. IDRA’s letter highlights potential areas for abuse of the toolkit.

Low Funding for Educating ELLs Affects Students Across Texas – Symposium Proceedings
In June 2015, IDRA released the proceedings report of the IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellows Program symposium focusing on education of English language learners. The report shares key insights from the robust discussion among the participants in IDRA’s ELL symposium along with the research study conducted by Dr. Jimenez-Castellanos. The report also provides a set of recommendations useful for policymakers, educators, community and business leaders and parents.

Print the proceedings report (PDF)

See the proceedings report through the dynamic digital reader below.

IDRA Policy Issues in 2015 for Texas
Much is at stake as the Texas Legislature convenes in Austin this January through June 2015. IDRA’s stands regarding student tracking and quality curriculum for all students are:

  • No student or any group of students should be tracked into low-level courses nor into different diploma routes or graduation plans.
  • Schools should provide a high quality curriculum that prepares all students to enroll in and complete college, supplemented by optional courses that prepare them to enter the workforce after graduation.
  • The same high quality curriculum should be available to all students in all schools, including those placed in alternative education settings.

IDRA’s Education of English Language Learners in U.S. and Texas Schools – Where We Are, What We Have Learned and Where We Need to Go from Here – A 2009 Update gives an overview of increasing numbers of ELL students, distribution of ELL students, increasing diversity and varying languages, instructional programs provided, and funding provided to ELL programs along with recommendations.

Read Education of English Language Learners in U.S. and Texas Schools – Where We Are, What We Have Learned and Where We Need to Go from Here – A 2009 Update (pdf) or order your copy for $7.

IDRA presents a research-based framework that provides guidance for design, implementation and evaluation of an effective English language learner program.

IDRA Testifies Before the Texas Senate Education Committee About ELL Education
IDRA’s Dr. Albert Cortez presented testimony state policies affecting the education of English language learners, particularly at the secondary level. “Our conclusion was that the PBMAS system’s use of aggregated district LEP data tends to miss many individual schools whose LEP students are not performing well on TAKS.”

Get an overview of what happened in bilingual/ESL policy in 2009 in Texas – see “Post-Legislative Session Summary on Proposed Changes to Texas Bilingual Education Monitoring Procedures, Secondary Level ESL Program Reforms, and Related Litigation,” by Albert Cortez, Ph.D.

U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona ’s funding for programs serving English language learners – Read a statement by Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA president and CEO, regarding the ruling and a summary of what the court said. Other resources by META and MALDEF are available here as well.

Also, IDRA has rigorously and methodically studied exemplary bilingual education programs in schools across the nation as determined by limited English proficient students’ academic achievement. As a result, we identified the 25 common characteristics that contribute to high academic performance of students served by bilingual education programs.

Listen to “Reflections on Bilingual Education Today and Beyond” IDRA Classnotes Podcast Episode 65