LOOK Act for Parents

Resources for parents in English, Spanish, and Portuguese to give public comment on the LOOK Act, from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

 

 

Statement Opposing Proposed State Seal of Biliteracy Regulations

The Language Opportunity Coalition strongly objects to the proposed regulation 603 CMR 31.07 that establishes the award criteria for the State Seal of Biliteracy. We ask the Board of Education not to approve the regulation in the current form.

  1. Seal-of-Biliteracy-LogoThe proposed award criteria do not follow national guidelines for proficiency levels for the Seal of Biliteracy.
  2. The proposed award criteria for English proficiency based solely on 10th grade ELA MCAS scores will inequitably exclude English learners, former English learners, and other students.
  3. The proposed award criteria do not allow English Learners the same amount of time to develop language proficiency as world language learners: Proficiency in English has to be demonstrated in 10th grade, while proficiency in a world language does not need to be demonstrated until 12th grade.
  4. The proposed award criteria do not implement the multi-tiered award structure developed by the Massachusetts Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project to promote and reward long term and sustained language study.

The award criteria defined for the Massachusetts Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project (2014-18) were designed to be a motivational and inclusive award that recognizes the language attainment of as many students as possible. Our goal in supporting establishment of the Seal of Biliteracy is to 1) support and reward long-term and sustained language study of English, native languages, and world languages, and 2) recognize and reward the linguistic assets that multilingual students bring to our schools. The proposed regulations will exclude many students, especially students whose native language is not English.

The LOOK Act requires that the Department consider national standards and the local work of the Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project in developing criteria for the award. Massachusetts is in a unique position because we can learn both from the local three-year Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project and from emerging research on implementation of the Seal of Biliteracy nationally. We ask that the Department consult with the Language Opportunity Coalition and members of the Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project to revise the regulations to ensure equity and opportunity for all students pursuing language study.

View the Coalition’s full public comment submission on the LOOK Act regulations, including the Seal of Biliteracy.

Comment is open on the proposed regulations until May 18. See these links to give public comment.

More States and Districts Embrace Biliteracy

Thirteen states now offer a “seal of biliteracy,” and at least 10 more are working toward implementing a similar award. Students in nine of the nation’s 10 largest school systems can earn statewide or district-level recognition with the seal affixed to their diplomas or transcripts as official proof that they can speak, read, and write in more than one language.

Education Week: More States and Districts Embrace Biliteracy

Massachusetts falls farther behind in language education

LANGUAGE word cloud, education business conceptAs dual-language programs are added around the country, Massachusetts falls farther behind in promoting language education:

School leaders in New York City, the nation’s largest district, are expanding their dual-language offerings beyond Spanish and Mandarin to include Russian, Hebrew, Japanese, and Haitian Creole.

The Houston school district opened an Arabic-language school this year, in part because the metropolitan region has seen its Arabic-speaking population spike in recent years.

And in the Westminster, Calif., schools, the state’s first Vietnamese dual-language program opened in Little Saigon, a Vietnamese enclave in Orange County.

Education Week: Districts Diversify Languages Offered in Dual-Immersion

Webinar: The Benefits of Dual-Language Learning

White House Task Force on New Americans Offers Fourth of Educational and Linguistic Integration Webinar Series, on “The Benefits of Dual-Language Learning,”

Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 2–3 p.m.

This webinar—co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA)—explores the growing body of evidence suggesting that dual-language learners—those who are exposed to more than one language during the course of their development—have cognitive, meta-cognitive, and socio-emotional advantages over children who were exposed to only one language. Among immigrants, higher levels of English fluency and skill are also correlated with higher levels of education and longer residency in the United States. Panelists will share current research and promising practices for promoting biliteracy and increasing English proficiency in immigrant communities.

The webinar link will soon be posted on the webinar series page of OELA’s website, where you can also find materials from past webinars.

Is everyone around the world really speaking English?

A global perspective on why the U.S. should invest in language learning:

…Not everyone is on the English bandwagon—by some estimates, 75% of the world does not speak English.

Let’s explore some of the policies other countries have regarding English—and why they matter to the U.S.

EDWeek: Foreign Language Policies: Is Everyone Else Really Speaking English?

Ask Your Representative to Support the World Languages Advancement Act (WLAA)

alert

Representatives Price (D-NC-4), Lance (R-NJ-7), Crowley (D-NY-14) and Young (R-AK-at large) have introduced the World Language Advancement Act (WLAA), a bipartisan piece of legislation that retains a vitally important, cost-effective program to ensure access to high-quality and innovative world language programming in America’s schools.

The amendment retains a vitally important, cost-effective program to ensure access to high-quality world language programming in America’s schools. The ECAA does not provide for world language programming, depriving the Federal Government of its programmatic ability to signal the importance of world languages to SEAs and LEAs.

American youth deserve to be globally competitive. Knowledge of another language, in addition to English, confers a wide range of benefits on the individual:

  • improved literacy in English, as evidenced by achievement test scores;
  • a greater likelihood of attending and finishing college, across all groups but especially for ELLs and lower SES groups;
  • higher lifelong earnings;
  • lifetime cognitive benefits, such as delaying the onset of symptoms of dementia.

Please write to your Representative asking for support for this important legislation. Your support and action are vital to our collective efforts to ensure that World Language programs remain funded by the US Department of Education. See the American Council on The Teaching of Foreign Languages website: http://capwiz.com/actfl/issues/alert/?alertid=67181626#sthash.nNWhHKbW.dpuf 

International perspective on foreign language study

A stark contrast:

The typical European pupil must study multiple languages in the classroom before becoming a teen. Studying a second foreign language for at least one year is compulsory in more than 20 European countries… Meanwhile, the U.S. does not have a nationwide foreign-language mandate at any level of education. Many states allow individual school districts to set language requirements for high school graduation, and primary schools have very low rates of even offering foreign-language course work.

Pew Research Center: Learning a foreign language a ‘must’ in Europe, not so in America

Include bilingual instruction for all students in ESEA reauthorization

A commentary in Education Week supporting expanded bilingual education in ESEA reauthorization:

While employers are clamoring for bilingual or even multilingual employees for an increasingly globalized economy, U.S. schools turn out relatively few students who are even somewhat competent in a second language. Hard figures are unavailable, but we know that only 5 percent of the 4.2 million Advanced Placement exams given in 2014 were in a foreign language, and only slightly more than half these students scored a 4 or a 5. That’s about 100,000 students—about six-tenths of 1 percent of the country’s nearly 16 million high school students. Most egregiously, instead of maintaining and building on the home-language abilities of 11 million students in our public schools, we actually attempt to quash them, if only by neglect.

Education Week: Congress: Bilingualism Is Not a Handicap

Boston Globe editorial urges bilingual education for Boston schools

A Boston Globe editorial on July 13, 2015 urges superintendent Chang to increase bilingual and dual language education in Boston Public Schools:

When it comes to educating the surging immigrant population in Boston, many in educational and political circles ignore the evidence of failure all around them. The achievement gap for so-called English-language learners — students enrolled in school but without English proficiency — promises to haunt Boston for a generation unless the ineffective and highly unsuccessful English immersion mandate is reversed. The Boston Public Schools continue to watch these students fall through the cracks. Their dropout rates are consistently higher, and they have among the lowest MCAS scores in the city. Saving more of these students from a life without meaningful educational achievement stands as one of the signal challenges for new superintendent Tommy Chang. Read more…

The Boston Globe: Bring back bilingual education for Boston schools