The English Language Learners (ELLs) attending schools in the member districts of the Council of the Great City Schools account for nearly one-quarter of all ELLs in the nation. Specifically, in 2007-08, Council-member districts enrolled about 1.2 million ELLs in grades K–12—or 23.8 percent of the 4.7 million estimated ELLs in the nation’s K-12 public schools (using the 2006–2008 U.S. Biennial Report on ELLs).
“English Language Learners in America’s Great City Schools: Demographics, Achievement and Staffing,” a new report by the Council presents the results of a yearlong effort to compile data on ELL enrollment and programs in the Great City School districts. Much of the data were collected from the membership via survey in 2012. Some 70.8 percent of the membership responded (46 of 65 districts who were members at the time the survey was conducted), but not every district responded to every question. In appendix F of this report, we list the specific districts responding to each question. The responses provide a picture of ELL enrollment across the 46 responding districts, including total numbers, percentages, enrollment by school level, languages spoken, and ELLs receiving special education services.
Professor Stephen Krashen notes three of the report’s findings with very short comments on his website:
1. “The results showed wide gaps in reading and mathematics between ELLs and non-ELLs.”
Comment: If the results did not show gaps between ELLs and non-ELLs, the ELLs would not be ELLs.
2. ” …. trend lines suggest that ELLs have not made meaningful progress academically between 2005 and 2011 …”.
Comment: We would not expect ELLs as a group to “improve”; when ELLs make sufficient progress, they are reclassified as non-ELL. The group average test score thus stays about the same.
3. “The percentage of ELLs scoring at or above proficient in grade 4 reading in large cities remained stagnant from 2005 to 2011, with only about five to six percent scoring at or above proficient” (p. 73).
Comment: This means that five to six percent have been misclassified. A student who scores proficient or above should not be classified as ELL.