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March 30, 2012

Left in the margins

In my last blog post I briefly touched on how Asian American students are being missed by the data collection radar.  For the purposes of understanding the statistics more clearly, it makes sense to present information included in the report. The report, which was created by the  Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund is titled Left in the Margins: Asian American Students and the No Child Left Behind Act.

California (169,000) holds the largest concentration of Asian American English Language Learners. However, New York (39,000), Texas (21,000) and Minnesota (15,000) also have large populations of Asian American English Language Learners.

Some interesting data presented includes:

Nearly one out of four (24%) Asian American students is an ELL student, compared to only two percent of non-Hispanic black and one percent of non-Hispanic white children. Additionally, 31% of Hispanic students are ELL students.

Asian Americans constitute 12% of all ELLs nationwide even though they are only 5% of the total population. They account for over 10% of state ELL populations in 28 different states, including some of the states with the largest ELL populations—California (15%), New York (13%), and New Jersey (12%).

The four largest Asian ethnic ELL populations nationwide are (see Figure 3): Chinese (115,000), Vietnamese (95,000), Korean (51,000), and Asian Indian (47,000). 

Some of the recommendations set forth by the organization include:

• Require training in ELL teaching methodology and multicultural awareness for all teachers.

Personally, I’m a huge advocate for multicultural education.  Not only does it benefit students who have been historically marginalized, but it also helps the entire student population gain a deeper understanding of other cultures.

• Provide states with funding to translate school documents, hire interpreters, and conduct community education for immigrant families.

• Require every state to collect comprehensive data that is disaggregated by ethnicity, native language, socioeconomic status, ELL status, and ELL program type.

This would help build a better understanding of who our ELLs are across the country.

In the end, it is important to understand what populations make up our ELL students, so we can figure out how to provide better support. –Joyti Jiandani

Filed under: Demographics,English Language Learners — Joyti @ 11:25 am

March 6, 2012

How we discuss diversity

A recent New York Times article, More Blacks and Latinos Admitted to Elite New York High School, caught my eye. The article stated that admittance into specialized schools was on the rise by specific groups. Approximately 730 black and Latino students scored well enough to gain admittance into some of the most competitive schools in the city of New York.

The number that stood out most was 730. This number appeared to be a cause for celebration, but if we look closely at the numbers we see a deeper truth. According to city-data.com, the total 9th grade enrollment for Stuyvesant high school was 819. The New York Times article stated that a mere 51 students who identified as black and/or Latino were granted entrance into Stuyvesant High School. Although the article also recognized that much work is needed in order to even the playing field in the schools such as Stuyvesant, which has historically remained the least racially and ethnically diverse, there is something deeper that concerns me: how we tend to discuss diversity in education.

The idea that black and Latino students are often clumped together for data reporting purposes can be more detrimental than beneficial.  Historically, we have addressed the needs of Latino students through the application of policies intended for students who identify as black. If you don’t distinguish the groups and acknowledge that their needs are different, you risk not implementing appropriate strategies for every student. Today, we see the impact of certain groups being invisible for years as we struggle to figure out how to support our English Language Learners.

Oftentimes, demographic numbers that are applicable to a specific city tend to overgeneralize. For example, the New York Times article also stated that, at the eight specialized high schools, Asian students got the highest number of offers this year: 2,490, or 46 percent. White students were offered 23 percent of the slots.

After reading statistics like that, one would assume that Asian students are prospering overall within the city of New York. However, according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, 24% of English Language Learners are Asian and 11% of ELLs are Chinese-speaking in the New York City. Demographic data and how we discuss diversity tends to misconstrue where support is needed. It is important to have a balance of achievement and strides made with a real handle on what issues still exist.

730 appears to be a high number in comparison to past years’ data; however in the grand scheme of supporting students who identify as Black, Latino, Asian or Native America we have a long way to go. — Joyti Jiandani






Filed under: Data,English Language Learners,High school — Tags: — Joyti @ 4:31 pm

August 26, 2011

More research on rural schools

In the nation’s imagination, rural schools are usually typecast as homogenous, outdated, and identical.  In truth, there are an equal percentage of minority rural students as there are rural students period, around 20%.  As far as the antiquated myth goes, due to their distance from and limited access to many of the physical resources that urban and suburban areas enjoy (say teachers or advanced coursework), rural schools are often at the fore of digital learning initiatives. And perhaps the most misleading fallacy, rural schools are not identical.  Their virtues, as well as their challenges are site-specific.  Consider for example the disparate needs of effective ELL teachers in New Mexico versus Vermont, where the percentage ratio of rural minority students is 81.6: 2.6.   

Earlier this month, I blogged on the ease with which research entities overlook rural schools and the Department of Education’s highlighting of rural education for the month of August 2011.  In this entry, I’d like to discuss three papers dealing with rural schools, also released this month.  Though these reports have different angles on rural reform, four shared themes emerge: the need to build regional capacities and forge partnerships, attention to teacher recruitment and retention, flexibility in federally mandated reforms, and greater enrollment of rural students in post-secondary education.

In brief, the Center for American Progress’s (CAP) report, titled, Make Rural Schools a Priority, focuses on rural policy priorities for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  Transforming the Rural South, produced by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE), relates the challenges of southern states where the largest percentage of underperforming rural schools are located.  And the Education Commission of the States (ECS) issued a summary document of recommendations generated from their first ever, National Summit on the Role of Education in Economic Development in Rural America, May 4th 2011.

Why is building regional capacities so important for rural school districts that take great pride in their unique communities and cultivate identity from surroundings?  SCORE calls on school districts to form regional partnerships and pool intellectual resources, which will thus enable them to go after philanthropic and federal grants to advance their own home-grown school reform efforts, otherwise out of reach. ECS recommends partnerships between school districts, institutions of higher education, local municipalities, and businesses to foster academic and career alignment and a college-going culture.

Such partnerships can also help teacher recruitment and retention, which is of grave concern, as the average rural teacher makes only 86 cents to the urban teacher’s dollar—pay allegedly appropriate for the lower costs of living, in housing that is often substandard.  Districts must partner with others to recruit highly effective teachers who can serve as content specialists across district lines.  Both CAP and ETS advise that pipelines be built to recruit teachers and administrators for sparsely populated districts lacking their own capacity to do so.  This infrastructure can start in the postsecondary setting, where teacher prep programs would expose candidates to actual teaching settings in rural communities, a dual strategy to promote effectiveness, and one reminiscent of those recently released by the National Council on Teaching Quality (NCTQ). 

In rural areas where teacher recruitment is an ever-present issue, turning around schools by way of firing the entire teaching staff is a deeply flawed solution.  This being one of the Obama administration’s four Race to the Top turnaround strategies, it stands to reason that rural school districts require more flexibility in implementing reforms.  There are countless reform efforts that rural schools would benefit from, not limited to those aforementioned, like better bandwidth and dual-credit high school classes. What’s most pressing of course is that these issues stay at the fore of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s mind, and think-tanks alike, beyond the month of August.—Juile McCabe

April 27, 2010

The Center Presents at NSBA’s 2010 Annual Conference

In case you didn’t get to Chicago for NSBA’s 2010 Annual Conference, or if you just missed the Center’s sessions, don’t fret, you can find the presentations here.

To check out Patte Barth’s session Planning for Pre-Kindergarten: A Toolkit for School Boards just click here. For Jim Hull’s session Meeting the Needs of Special Education and English Language Learners you can find it here. Click here for his session Preparing Students for Graduation and Beyond.

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