Equity & Diversity

A Year-End Look at Our Most-Read Blog Posts on English-Language Learners

By Corey Mitchell — December 22, 2016 3 min read
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Readers of Education Week‘s Learning the Language blog were drawn to posts examining the effects of the Every Student Succeeds Act on English-language learners, research on boosting ELL achievement, and explorations of what it means to be an English-learner or immigrant student in the United States.

Here’s a look at the dozen most-read blog posts in 2016:

12. States Struggle to Identify, Support ELLs With Learning Disabilities

A 20-state review of research and policies from the federal Institute of Education Sciences found no clear-cut process for identifying English-language learners with learning disabilities.

11. Spanish, Arabic, Chinese Are the Top Home Languages for ELLs

Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese are the top three home languages for English-language learners in the nation’s K-12 public schools, according to data from the federal education department.

10. High Schools With College-Bound ELLs Share Common Practices, Study Finds

A study of six high schools with higher-than-average academic outcomes for English-language learners found that the schools share common design elements, including intentionally hiring immigrants and former ELLs, according to a Stanford University Graduate School of Education study.

9. Report: Unaccompanied Minors Blocked From Enrolling in School in 14 States

Under federal law, all children, regardless of their immigration status, have the right to enroll in public schools, but even when enrolled some of these students are “pressured into what advocates and attorneys argue are separate but unequal alternative programs,” an Associated Press investigation found.

8. New Federal K-12 Law Fails to Address ‘Value of Bilingualism’

A group of leading English-language learner scholars says the Every Student Succeeds Act does more to address the needs of English-learners, but falls short in “addressing the value of bilingualism.”

7. ELL Parents Can Boost Their Children’s English Skills By Doing These Two Things

Spanish-speaking parents looking to help their children learn English should start by developing their literacy and numeracy in their first language, according to recently published research from the University of Missouri.

6. Does the Term ‘English-Language Learner’ Carry a Negative Connotation?

Students at a charter school in Worcester, Mass., wanted to change the label given to students learning English as a second language.

5. English-Language-Learner Graduation Rates Are All Over the Map

The graduation rate for the nation’s English-language learners in the class of 2014 vary widely from state to state.

4. How Will ESSA Rules Change Education for English-Language Learners?

Educators and education advocates submitted more than 20,000 comments on draft regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act, and many of them questioned what the new federal K-12 law means for the nation’s millions of English-language learners.

3. Pronouncing Student Names Correctly: A Quick Guide

This blog post served as a companion piece to Mispronouncing Students’ Names: A Slight That Can Cut Deep, an Education Week story on student names.

2. Nearly Half of U.S. States Offer Special Recognition for Bilingual Graduates

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia are promoting bilingualism among K-12 students by offering the seal of biliteracy--special recognition on high school diplomas for graduates who demonstrate fluency in two or more languages.

1. English-Language-Learner Classification Can Impede Student Growth, Study Finds

English-language-learner services are designed, in theory, to prevent educational inequity, but for some students the specialized services may be reinforcing it. A study out of the University of Oregon found that designating early elementary students who are close to being proficient in English as ELLs may actually do more harm than good.

Photo Credit: Junior Michelle-Thuy Ngoc Duong poses for a photograph at Downtown College Prep Alum Rock in San Jose, Calif.

--James Tensuan for Education Week

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