Quality Counts 2009: Portrait of a Population

Hannah Miller

Editorial Projects in Education
January 8, 2009

The 13th edition (!) of Education Week's annual report combines the expected state report cards with a special focus on a previously under-studied population: English-language learners (ELLs). The former don't differ much from states' grades in earlier years and we find the nation as whole receiving a less-than-stellar C+ on students' chances-for-success index (we remain doubtful on its validity). On the other hand, its findings on the nation's 4.5 million ELL students are new and interesting. For example, fewer than ten percent of 4th and 8th grade ELLs scored "proficient" or higher on NAEP's math test in 2007--compared to 34 percent of students as a whole. Since ELL enrollments in twenty states more than doubled from 1995 to 2005 and more than one-quarter of ELLs nationally failed to make progress toward English-language proficiency, the report indicates that increased attention is needed in order to understand who ELLs are and what programs and policies are actually working for them. Furthermore, ELLs speak more than 100 native languages and there is a significant shortage of teachers who are fluent in many of those tongues. This report offers a welcome in-depth look at both the challenges and opportunities facing a previously under-studied population. Education Week provides all of it free online to subscribers; printed copies can be obtained for a small fee. All can be accessed here.

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