Students identified as English Language Learners (ELL) have not only been lagging behind in English proficiency but other areas of study as well. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between a student’s acquisition of English and there performance in school. As a result schools may need to change the way they think about ESL programs.
In many states including Arizona, students, regardless if they are ELL or not must take yearly tests in math and reading. Test results in the last several years of Arizona schools found that ELL students performed 20 to 30 times worse than students that were not ELL. This study along with others shows that these students’ education as a whole is being affected by their low English-proficiency.
Some Education officials suggest that states should group all of the ELL students together when comparing test data. This way schools are not harmed by low test scores by ELL students. But this is putting the blame on the students and not making the schools take the responsibility for their failure. This allows the schools to get away with not providing proper instruction for their ELL students and not addressing the problem at hand.
The goal of the nation is to have all students proficient in Math and reading by 2014, an end-time that is fast approaching, and still the nation hasn’t shown much progress towards meeting it. With more than 10% of the student population classified as an ELL, the entire nation should be working harder to make sure that these students are also meeting other goals in their education.
I think that this may mean we may have to look again at our goals when it comes to education. Are we going to sacrifice these ELL students’ overall knowledge so that they can become proficient English speaker and “true Americans”? Or is there some way we can continue to teach English (and assimilate students) without these students falling behind in other subjects?