NABE Weekly eNews
Mar. 27, 2014

Strategies to reach every student, regardless of language barrier
Helping every student experience meaningful, deep learning is a constant challenge, in no small part because no two learners are alike. To reach students who are particularly challenged — whether because of their ability to speak English or some other reason — educators can find a way in by tapping into students' interests and passion.More

Report: Widespread racial disparities in public school punishments
A U.S. Education Department report finds what it calls a pattern of punitive policies and educational neglect that disproportionately hurt black, Latino and Native American students in public schools.More

New Orleans charter schools scramble to teach non-English speakers
The Hechinger Report
Every school night, Ramon Leon helps his older son, a third grader at a New Orleans charter school, with his homework. Typically, they speed through the math worksheets. Word problems take longer because Leon's son has to translate them into Spanish for his father, who speaks little English. Grammar worksheets sometimes stump them both. Leon, who moved to New Orleans from Mexico with his two sons just before the start of the school year, is an involved parent: He attends all report card conferences — using his third grader as an interpreter. On the nights when he can't help his older son figure out an assignment, he won't sign the homework form. Instead, he writes "No entiendo" — Spanish for "I don't understand."More

Spanish speaking students trigger civil rights showdown in Texas
Tony Castro, a contributor for Voxxi, writes: "When I was a kid in Texas you were forbidden to speak Spanish in school, and perhaps the teachers and administrators who would punish you, if you did, should have been called Amy Lacey. That was the 1950s, before the civil rights legislation of the 1960s that began opening diversity in the country, and it seemed like there was an Amy Lacey in each classroom and in each principal's office in Texas and throughout the Southwest." More

Social feedback loop aids language development
Science Daily via Association for Psychological Science
Verbal interactions between parents and children create a social feedback loop important for language development, according to research. That loop appears to be experienced less frequently and is diminished in strength in interactions with autistic children. The research also showed that socioeconomic status seems to affect the interactions making up the feedback loop.More

Transferring ESL skills to the business world
By: Douglas Magrath
Students need to transfer their ESL skills to their academic subjects or careers. A 2012 study indicates that being involved as a student in an L2 classroom does not automatically lead to motivation to transfer L2 beyond that classroom. The instructor needs to keep ESL exercises interesting and relevant to the business classes the students will take. A mismatch between the language-learning activities and the academic material would mean students are just working through structured exercises. Such activity is not beneficial since the students may just store the forms away in memory and not really acquire the material.More

How do we do ELL well?
The Boston Globe
The Massachusetts Joint Education Committee chaired by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and Representative Alice Peisch is scheduled to make a decision on a bill that seeks to transform the way English language learners are educated in Massachusetts. Our education system has failed ELLs, and as a result they are currently 1.5 times more likely to drop out than their English-proficient peers. In 2011, the Federal Department of Justice ruled that, by failing to provide adequate learning environments for ELLs, Massachusetts was violating the civil rights of ELL students.More

Mandatory ELL training for all teachers
Medford Transcript
Teachers today have a lot to juggle with prep time, correcting homework and parent conferences, to name a few of their many responsibilities. So it's hard to blame any educators who felt stressed in 2011 when the federal government mandated English language learner training for all core academic teachers in the state. The state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education had been offering teachers training on techniques ELL specialists utilize in the classroom in order to more effectively develop the English skills of non-native English speakers, but the training sessions were voluntary and often poorly attended.More

High percentage of Lafayette, La., students struggle with language
As Buffalo Public school parents kicked off a campaign Monday to demand transferring their children out of failing city schools, one school continues working on its turnaround plan. Leaders of Lafayette High School in Louisiana are trying to improve their graduation rates. In our Focus on Education report, WBFO's Eileen Buckley reports there's not an unwillingness to learn, but it's a matter of some students learning a new language.More

For Common Core, Khan Academy goes high-tech
Education Week
Continuing its evolution from quirky disruptor of traditional classroom learning to mainstream player aligned with the education establishment, free website Khan Academy unveiled new online math resources tied to the contentious Common Core State Standards. In an interview with Education Week, founder and president Salman Khan touted the comprehensive scope of his organization's new materials, as well as their sophisticated technological underpinnings, as a "big milestone" for the Mountain View, Calif.-based nonprofit, which is seeking to expand its user base of 10 million people per month.More

Cutting to the Common Core: Changing the playing field 2
Language Magazine
The transition to the Common Core State Standards offers a window of opportunity to fortify what and how we teach. It also provides a chance to reflect on how our most marginalized students most effectively learn the most difficult knowledge and skills. The CCSS challenge us to teach students much more than loosely connected pieces of knowledge and test-taking skills. They offer an opportunity to equip diverse students with deeper understandings of content, more expert thinking skills and stronger communication skills.More

Report: Widespread racial disparities in public school punishments
A U.S. Education Department report finds what it calls a pattern of punitive policies and educational neglect that disproportionately hurt black, Latino and Native American students in public schools.More

From second language learning to bilingualism in schools
Psychology Today
We are many who feel that education should help children and adolescents acquire a second or third language while retaining their first language. Education should also encourage the active use of those languages, if at all possible. More

Dual-language learning for all students is visionary
The Voice of Tucson
Being visionary didn't work for Arizona. Being reactionary was a bust, too. It's time to apply some hard-nosed realism to the fact that our schools are not serving a population of kids who are fast becoming the majority of K-12 students.More

Zoom schools work to improve skills in ELL students
A representative from the Department of Education visited Tate Elementary School. Assistant Deputy Secretary Libia Gil says Nevada has one of the largest populations of children learning to speak English. Tate is a zoom school, meaning extra attention is given for English language learning through the state program. "I'm very impressed with the fact that there is this unity of purpose and focus on trying to improve support for English language learners, understanding how they're performing in schools, particularly in Clark County and Nevada as a whole," Gil said.More

Critics question Common Core's effectiveness
eSchool News
Common Core State Standards are a set of rigorous academic standards in math and English. The Common Core has been adopted in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, this academic initiative was intended to ensure that students graduate from high school with critical thinking skills to help them lead a successful life.More

Homelessness, poverty and English as a second language
Lexington Clipper-Herald
The Lexington Clipper-Herald looked into various student demographics present at Lexington Public Schools and asked LPS staff about what they and parents can do to help students in these categories improve their learning skills. Many Pershing staff members noted that it could take on average anywhere from seven to 10 years for a student learning English as their second language to become literate and fluent.More

5 new facts from the civil rights data collection
Equity — the push to ensure strong educational opportunity for every student — drives everything we do at the U.S. Department of Education, and particularly in the Office for Civil Rights. From preschool enrollment to college attendance and completion, our office's work is grounded in the belief that all students, regardless of race, gender, disability, or age, need a high-quality education to be successful.More