The Chicago school district will audit all the city’s schools, including charters, to ensure they are providing federally mandated services to English-language learners and properly spending funds intended to help them, online and print newsmagazine Catalyst Chicago reports.
Over the next six months, staff will fan out across the city to interview school employees, and review records and instructional materials. Once the review is complete, the district will provide principals with a list of violations.
The citywide audit comes months after a state monitoring report found that the school system has failed to adequately teach thousands of students who speak limited English. Among the problems investigators found were: students forced out of bilingual services too soon, a lack of English-language instructional materials, and inconsistent use of home language surveys to determine which students need ELL support services.
The state is still reviewing Chicago’s plan to fix those issues and others, Catalyst Chicago reports.
In response to the report’s findings, the head of the district’s Office of Language and Cultural Education said administrators will aim to make it easier for schools with relatively few English-learners to get bilingual teachers, even if they’re only half-time instructors.
Overall, about 17 percent of the district’s 400,000-plus students are classified as English-language learners, state records show.
In 2009, a federal judge lifted a decades-old federal consent decree that mandated better services for English-learners. In the years since, the district has reduced staffing, conducted fewer compliance checks, and been less responsive to complaints and concerns about ELL services, advocates told Catalyst.
While criticism of the district’s ELL services has mounted, leaders have made attempts to offer more benefits and services for its bilingual students, including a Latino studies curriculum and a seal of biliteracy, a special seal for the diplomas of high school graduates fluent in two or more languages.
Here’s a copy of the state monitoring report on Chicago’s English-langauge learner services:
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.