More About the Lack of Access for ELLs to a College-Prep Curriculum

By Mary Ann Zehr — May 05, 2009 1 min read
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About 8 percent of English-language learners in California, compared with 20 percent of students who aren’t ELLs, finish high school having taken the required courses to be eligible to attend the California State University system, according to a study by WestEd released in a brief by the National High School Center.

This is just one more statistic indicating that ELLs are disproportionately closed out of a curriculum that prepares them for college. The research brief reports on the course-taking patterns of ELLs based on a study of student transcripts from 54 high schools in California.

A second brief released by the National High School Center urges schools and districts to develop a coherent approach to educating ELLs at the high school level. That brief also points to the lack of access to core curriculum for ELLs. It says that “language status hampers access to grade-level instruction in the core curriculum and may impede attainment of the academic English language and grade-level performance standards.”

A third brief by a WestEd researcher describes efforts in California, Florida, New York, and Texas to support ELLs in high school. This brief doesn’t move the discussion about ELLs in high school along much because it lacks models. The brief acknowledges that most reform efforts described are “in progress.” It doesn’t provide outcomes that indicate whether the states’ policies for ELLs are effective or not. In fact, it notes that only two of the four states, California and Texas, met adequate yearly progress goals on average for ELLs in the 2006-07 school year. The last line of the brief says: “Sustained research is needed to better ascertain the impact that these initiatives and practices are having on the education of ELLs at the secondary school level.

In sum, read the briefs for more insight into the problem of how ELLs lack adequate services at the high school level and not for examples of proven approaches that work.

The National High School Center, by the way, is scheduled to host a webinar on best practices for educating high school ELLs on Thursday, May 14, from 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Eastern time.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.