Kansas schools see growth in English-learner population
- Over the next five years, the proportion of English learners (ELs) in the Wichita Public Schools is expected to grow to 25% even as the overall student population drops, according to The Wichita Eagle.
- The projections follow a trend across Kansas, where the number of ELs climbed from over 41,000 to over 58,000 between 2012 and 2017 — and in Wichita, the state’s largest district, schools are seeing an increase in the enrollment of students from refugee families as well as ELs who were born in the U.S., the article says.
- The district is partnering with nearby Newman University, which provides training for teachers who want to earn an endorsement in English to Speakers of Other Languages, and teachers also use an over-the-phone interpreting service that allows them to communicate with non-English-speaking parents.
According to data from the federal Administration for Children and Families, the percentage of children in early-childhood programs who come from non-English-speaking homes has more than doubled over the past 30 years, which, in addition to immigrant and refugee children, helps to explain the increase in ELs in K-12 schools.
Young ELs are often referred to as dual-language learners (DLLs) because they are learning English and their home language simultaneously. A recent report from the Migration Policy Institute provides recommendations on how to support DLLs in the classroom, highlighting practices that can also be helpful in K-12, as well — especially in classrooms considered “superdiverse,” where multiple languages are spoken.
The practices include making sure staff members who speak the family’s language are involved in activities such as home visits, registration and screening assessments, and incorporating students’ home language into the classroom through greetings or books brought from the child’s home.
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