Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Californian Districts Not Focused on Needs of English Learners

A new report that reviewed the Local Control Accountability Plans of 29 key school districts throughout the state, and the impact those LCAPs are having on English Learner students, was released today by Californians Together.

The report, titled "Falling Short on the Promise to English Learners, A New Report on Year One District Local Control Accountability Plans," found that LCAPs tend to be characterized by woefully inadequate specificity and weak attention to how schools are meeting the various needs of English Learners. In addition, the study, which was conducted in collaboration with the Center for Equity for English Learners at Loyola Marymount University, found that districts tended to not identify effective, research-based practices for working with underserved populations. 
"We saw clearly that this has been a missed opportunity for school districts to finally move toward  best and proven practices when it comes to delivering education programs and services for the diverse English Learner population," said researcher and report co-author Laurie Olsen of Californians Together. "The state's new Local Control Funding Formula for districts was specifically intended for these communities." 

A sampling of districts with the largest English Learner enrollment, high percentage of English Learners and several with a history of comprehensive services for English Learners were included in the report.  These 29 districts constitute 32 percent of all of California's 1.4 million English Learners.  
"As it is functioning now, the LCAP is far from adequate as an accountability mechanism to target funds and ensure equity and access to educational services to ELs", concluded Dr. Magaly Lavadenz, author and Director for the Center for Equity for English Learners, Loyola Marymount University. Among the key findings presented in the report: 
  • There was difficulty in ascertaining actual funding allocations by districts that were related to ELservices and programs.
  • The state's year one LCAP design was inadequate to ascertain whether or not districts areplanning for increased or improved services to ELs.
  • Very few districts explicitly specify services and programs that align to various EL needs.
The report offered a series of findings and recommendations for six specific areas: 1) English Language Development and Professional Development, 2) Representation of Parents of ELs in the LCAP Process, 3) EL Programs, 4) Course Access, Actions and Services, 5) District- and School-wide funding allocation for EL Needs, and 6) EL Student Outcomes Measures and Data to Inform Goals.

Officials from Californians Together praised the report as a timely spotlight on the critical importance of planning for and delivering quality education to English Learners. 

Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez, President of Californians Together: "This report can be a valuable tool for engaging and informing policy and practice at the local and state levels to strengthen LCAP development and program implementation for English Learning moving forward. It also serves as a clear call to action for both local and state policymakers."

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