On Monday, May 13th, The Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality, Stand for Children, Chalkboard Project, Adelante Mujeres and other organizations in the Oregon Alliance for Education Equity (OAEE) joined forces to put together the first ever legislative hearing in the House Education Committee on English Language Learner (ELL) student achievement in our state. This hearing served as a call to action for our state leaders to work to improve the academic achievement of ELL students.
The members of the Committee heard testimony from Toya Flick, Legislative Director for Stand for Children, David Bautista, Oregon Dept. of Education Deputy Superintendent, two expert researchers from Education Northwest, a retired master ELL teacher, a Latina immigrant mother from Reynolds School District and a Caucasian mother of a Latino ELL student from Salem, Joseph Santos from the APANO network (Asian and Pacific and Micronesians Islanders network), Leonard Terrible, a master high school teacher of ELL students from Forest Grove, and from our Executive Director Eduardo Angulo among others.
The Committee members want to continue the conversation with this group of ELL advocates and want to response to the call to action and seeking champions of the cause for equal education for these 56,000 students.
ELL children make up 11 percent of students in Oregon public schools. The rate at which the ELL student population is growing within Oregon schools is reason enough for educators and policymakers to try to better understand the educational needs of these students. But a greater concern is the staggering achievement gap between ELL students and their English-proficient peers.
The academic achievement gaps between English-language learners and their native English-speaking peers are well documented and begin early. These disparities continue through middle and high school – with less than 53 percent of Oregon’s ELL students graduating in four years.
Further, Oregon ELL students’ average scores on NAEP tests are well below the national average for ELLs in reading and math, at both 4th and 8th grade levels. In 4th grade reading, Oregon ranks 33rd among other states; in 4th grade math, 39th; in 8th grade reading, 26th; and in 8th grade math, we do slightly better at 17th.
If you could not make it to the hearing, see a gallery of images from the hearing. If you would like receive updates on future hearings sign up for our announcements under the “Get Email News!” headline on the right side of this website.