California School Transitions ELLs to Common Core

Even though Laurel Elementary School in Los Angeles faces considerable challenges, it boasts an impressive list of accolades.

Most Laurel students come from low-income backgrounds, and about 60 percent are English Language Learners. The students have tended to perform better on math than language arts on California standardized tests, according to The Hechinger Report.

The Hechinger Report article discusses how educators at the school are preparing for the transition toward common core standards, which will be more rigorous and demand more advanced language skills from students.

In response, educators at the school are infusing more language development into math classes. Third-grade teacher Alejandra Monroy, who is from Chile, is teaching vocabulary as she explains math concepts.

While teaching students the concept that “3 X 4 = 12” she explained that the first two numbers are “factors” and the entire series a “multiplication sentence.”

Then she explained the concept of patterns through numbers.

“A pattern can be something like red/blue/red/blue right?” Monroy asked. “A sequence that repeats. When you count by skipping numbers — 2-4-6 — you’re doing a pattern.”

If you speak with teachers, how are they preparing to phase in the common core for ELLs? How are their teaching methods changing? When elementary school teachers teach math, how are they changing their approach?

Related Links:

“With new standards, will California’s youngest English learners lose their edge in math?” The Hechinger Report.

“Miami Prepares for Impact of Common Core Standards on ELLs,” Latino Ed Beat.

States Vary in Preparedness for Common Core Standards’ Impact on Latinos

Sates have widely varying degrees of preparedness for the implementation of common core standards — and in particular their impact on low-income, Latino and black students.

A new report by the Education Trust, “Uneven at the Start,” identifies the best- and least-prepared states at  phasing in the more rigorous reading and math standards to serve different student populations. The group used performance data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam to predict how states will fare. It examines both improvement and performance of each state on NAEP exams, including in fourth- and eighth- grade reading and math performance, compared against the national average.

With Latino students, Texas and Massachusetts performed best. Florida also performed well.

Meanwhile, Oregon  and California had the weakest record with Hispanic students. The two states are improving slowly when compared against other states, and have performed worse than the national average across several subject areas and age levels. According to the analysis, neither state in any category is above the national average for Hispanics.

The analysis found that no state had above average performance and improvement for Hispanic students across all the subject and grade levels.

“…Instead of just pretending that the same amount of effort will be required everywhere to get children to the new standards, we need to make sure that the lessons from states that have improved the most for all groups of children inform implementation work more broadly and ensure that struggling states have the extra help they will need to build the forward momentum that is already present elsewhere,” said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, in a news release.

The report has charts that break out where each state falls within the spectrum of performance.

Related Links:

– “Uneven at the Start: Differences in State Track Records Foreshadow Challenges and Opportunities for Common Core,” The Education Trust. 

– “New Analyses Examine State Track Records in Performance and Improvement,” The Education Trust.

Univision Educates Parents in Spanish About Common Core Standards

A new special report on Univision’s Web site explains to Latino parents in Spanish the significance of the “estándares comunes,” known to English speakers as the Common Core Standards.

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.

Related Links:

– Understanding Language initiative. Stanford University.

– Common Core State Standards Initiative.

– “Estándares educativos Parte 1: ¿Qué son estándares comunes?” (What are the common core standards?) Univision.

– “Estándares educativos Parte 2 ¿Por qué hay que cambiarlos?” (Why the change?) Univision. 

– “Estándares educativos Parte 3 ¿Qué cambios notará en la educación de sus hijos?” (What changes will you notice in your children’s education?) Univision.

– “Estándares educativos Parte 4: Los estudiantes de inglés como segundo idioma.”  (Students learning English as a second language) Univision.

– “Estándares educativos Parte 5: El rol de los padres.” (The role of parents) Univision.