Massachusetts Restores Bilingual Education

Massachusetts’ Republican Governor Charlie Baker has signed the LOOK Bill into law which will allow the state’s schools to offer bilingual and dual-language education. According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, there are more than 90,000 English language learners (ELLs) in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts House and Senate earlier voted overwhelmingly to approve the LOOK Bill and endorse the Seal of Biliteracy. Under the bill, school districts can maintain current the immersion programming or choose an alternative that meets federal and state standards. The legislation expands the role of parental advisory councils and allows parents the flexibility to choose programs that best meet their child’s needs.

“After 10+ years working on this, we have legislation that will guarantee all students learning English will be taught in strong programs tailored to fit their needs,” House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez, one of the bill’s longtime proponents, tweeted.

Since 2000, the number of English learning (EL) students has doubled to more than 90,204 students, or 9.5% of the student population, according to Democratic legislative leaders, who added that while “statewide graduation rates for students have risen over the past ten years, the achievement gap between EL students and their peers persists.”

The bill also requires better tracking of student performance and reviews of school programming, and directs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop additional guidelines and supports for districts.

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