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State Scores Show More Support Needed for English Language Learners


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Press Contact: Kim Sykes,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 ext. 232,  E-mail: ksykes@nyic.org
New York  (Thursday, August 14, 2014)

State Scores Show More Support Needed for English Language Learners

(New York, NY) Today, New York State released test scores on English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics for students in Grades 3 through 8 for the past school year, showing once again that English Language Learners (ELLs) are lagging far behind. Statewide, only 2.6% of ELLs reached proficiency levels in English Language Arts, and only 11% attained proficiency in Mathematics. While last year’s scores were even lower due to the roll out of the new Common Core-aligned exams (1.7% and 7.5% of ELLs reached proficiency in ELA and Mathematics respectively), it is clear that a significant achievement gap persists between ELL students and their peers, as proficiency rates in the ELA and Mathematics tests for all students were 31.4% and 35.8% respectively.

The following is a statement from Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Claire Sylvan, executive director of Internationals Network for Public Schools:

“Today's scores show that we have a long way to go as New York State to help our English Language Learner students realize their potential. We simply must do a better job to educate, assess and support our ELL students, who show such extraordinary potential and have unique language skills that are huge assets in today’s global economy. 

“We strongly urge New York State to put forth the necessary resources to develop a Native Language Arts assessment in Spanish, allowing Spanish-speaking ELLs in grades 3 through 8 who have been in the U.S. for less than three years to be tested in their home language. Currently, there are no translations provided when ELLs take the English Language Arts assessment. By giving a great number of ELLs the opportunity to demonstrate their language arts knowledge and skills in their native language, both students and teachers will benefit by having more accurate information as ELLs continue to develop fluency in English.

“The near single-digit proficiency levels on these tests also show that school districts need to be better prepared to support ELLs. Districts that have seen a recent increase in ELLs need resources to develop and implement multi-year plans to effectively serve these students, adapt materials and curriculum to make them more accessible, provide training and professional development for teachers, ensure access to technology that can be used to support language acquisition, and hire culturally competent staff. This support will be critical to helping overstretched school districts from Babylon to Buffalo work effectively with ELL students. 

“Furthermore, school districts need support to provide parents with timely and accurate access to translation and interpretation so that parents can be informed about the programs and services their children need. If schools can engage parents successfully, we can ensure that a child can thrive in a supportive educational environment. It is essential that parents understand their children’s progress to be true partners with schools in educating their children.

“We urge the State to provide additional resources to allow for better assessment of ELLs, more support for school districts with changing demographics, and stronger engagement with parents of ELLs. With this support, we are confident that ELLs will have the support they need to meet rising standards, and we are committed to working with our partners and allies to ensure that ELLs have the opportunity to highlight their strengths and abilities for the benefit of New York State and its future."


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