In the report, “Ya viene: Elevando los estándares educativos,” or “It’s coming: Elevating the educational standards,” journalist María Antonieta Collins interviewed Aída Walqui, director of the teacher professional development program with WestEd and an expert on English language learners. The report explains how states are working together to create shared math and English standards.
“Every state has its own standards that signify a good education,” Collins says in the report’s opening (I’m translating this loosely from Spanish to English). “This lack of uniformity in education standards has affected the position of the United States in comparison with other countries and the capacity to compete in the global market.”
Walqui participated in a discussion about the standards with Collins that Univision broke into five parts on its Web site. “What the standards don’t do is say how to teach the standards in the classroom,” Walqui said. “It gives freedom to the schools, school districts and states to use different but parallel ways of teaching the standards. The destination is still the same.”
She said that the majority of ELLs in U.S. schools today–82 percent of ELL primary students and 58 percent of ELL secondary students–are born in the United States. She called it a “crime” that some students arrive in high school still not proficient in English after attending American schools since kindergarten.
“These children speak perfect English in the street and speak perfect English with their friends,” Walqui said. “But when they try to read complex texts, they don’t understand them.”
That’s why the standards for ELLs are being revised, she added. Walqui is part of the “Understanding Language” initiative at Stanford University, which aims to inform educators about the important role of language in the new Common Core Standards. The group has released several papers regarding the standards and how they apply to ELLs.
Thanks to Education Week’s Learning the Language blog for calling this to my attention.