The most recent statistics available show that “64% of all U.S. teachers have at least one English Language Learner in their classroom,” according to the Digest of Education Statistics.
National Center for Education Statistics numbers put ELL students at 1 in 10 of the national student population.
Based on these numbers and the projected growth of the number of students in U.S. schools who identify as learning English over the next few years, how the nation, states, and districts assess students – and prepare these students for assessment – should be a part of the educational conversation going forward.
As we approach year-end assessments, this is the perfect time to talk about providing extra support for those students who do not speak English as their first language.
To gain equitable access to quality education, ELL students often need additional supports. When they need help with homework, they may be less likely to receive parental support.
This can become even more apparent as the end of the school year approaches. It is not uncommon for parents who are not fluent in English and did not attend school in the U.S. not to know how to help their children.
This may be especially true for parents who have never had experience with end-of-year assessments.
Thus, providing support to these subsets of your district’s student population can have an impact not just on the students and their academic success, but also on their families and the broader community.
When your district takes steps to support ELL learners, you are showing students, their parents, their extended families, and all others in their community your commitment to providing access and support to them.
In EdWeek, Larry Ferlazzo notes that “good ELL teaching is good teaching for everybody and that the engaging and accelerating instructional strategies used in ELL classrooms” can benefit all students.
This is true also for the supports that can be put in place to help ELL students.
A key strategy is to make sure that ELLs have had adequate exposure to the types of skills and concepts that will be tested on the assessment. Not only does this mean providing instruction throughout the year that is aligned with the assessment so that ELLs are familiar with the content and format; but it also means students should have ample opportunity to review those skills and concepts.