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New Options Open Doors for Increased Graduation Rates of English Language Learners in New York


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Press Contact: Kim Sykes,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 ext. 232,  E-mail: ksykes@nyic.org
New York  (Thursday, January 15, 2015)

New Options Open Doors for Increased Graduation Rates of English Language Learners in New York

This week, the New York State Board of Regents took an important step that will allow additional English language learners (ELLs) to graduate from high school.

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

“This week the Board of Regents took an important step toward increasing English language learners’ (ELLs’) access to a high school diploma by recognizing that some students might be qualified to graduate but still struggle with the English regents exam. The move allows recently arrived ELLs who score 55-61 on the English Regents exam to receive a high school diploma through an appeals process, as long as they have high attendance rates and pass their classes. Currently all students who score 62-64 on any Regents exam are eligible to receive a diploma via this appeals process. We applaud this new option that will allow more ELLs to graduate from high school, a critical issue given the declining graduation rates for these students.

“Despite their enormous potential, ELLs continue to graduate at dramatically lower rates than their English-proficient peers. Fewer than one in three ELLs graduates on time. By comparison, nearly 80% of English-proficient students graduate in four years. ELLs are also more than twice as likely as other students to drop out. The Board of Regents and State Education Department have made varied, meaningful efforts to reverse this trend. They have released a Blueprint for ELL Success and made much-needed updates to the regulations outlining services and supports for ELLs, among other efforts. 

“As this week’s new option is implemented, the Board of Regents should analyze its impact on ELL graduation rates and determine if some adjustments to the current requirements – particularly around attendance and when students arrive in the US – are appropriate in order to ensure meaningful access.

“Critically, now it’s Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature’s turn to act to boost ELL graduation rates. They must make a major investment in support for ELL students and also provide $10 million to school districts that have seen surges in English language learner student enrollment.

“All children must get a chance to graduate ready for bright futures, and all of New York State’s leadership has a vital role to play in supporting ELLs.”

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Reference: http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2015/01/13/state-eases-graduation-requirements-for-new-immigrants/#.VLf6zUfF_1g

The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.

Internationals Network for Public Schools (Internationals) is an educational non-profit working to provide quality public education for recently arrived immigrants by growing and sustaining a strong national network of innovative International High Schools. Internationals also supports states, districts, schools, and educators outside our network to improve the quality of the education of English language learners through a variety of services and aims to influence policy for English language learners (ELLs).


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