New York City and New York State have made progress in developing educational opportunities and a vision for English Language Learners.
Some fundamental ways New York City can transform education to improve outcomes for non-native English speakers are:
- Creating more bilingual classrooms – Presently, English language learner students are taught under a three-model education rubric: English as a Second Language (ESL), transitional bilingual education (which eventually moves a student into English-only education) and dual language education. While ESL emphasizes English acquisition, often to the detriment of a student’s knowledge of his or her home language, dual language and transitional bilingual models build on students’ existing language knowledge.
- Conducting effective parent outreach and providing support services in schools for families whose home language is other than English – If families, particularly immigrant families, view schools as safe spaces where they can engage people they trust, they can better participate in their children’s education.
- Promoting specific strategies that encourage parent involvement – The State and City education departments should work with CBOs, faith-based organizations and other community pillars to conduct more effective outreach in communities with large ELL populations. The education departments should also hold community education events to support Latino and ELL parents in creating engaging language and literacy experiences at home to complement what children are learning in school.
- Linking child welfare and school data across systems (e.g. ACS, DOE, HHS, OCFS) – City databases need to be unified across agencies, particularly in light of the UPK expansion.
- Redesigning student assessment models – We need to lower the stakes on standardized testing and utilize assessments in both English and the home language to know what the child has learned and the levels of language development in the home language and in English.