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English Language Learners As An Asset

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Language Magazine has just published an article co-authored by our school’s principal and me about how we feel our whole school has benefited by having over half of our students being English Language Learners. This year our school became one of the few high schools in the country to exit fourth-year Program Improvement Status under the No Child Left Behind Act.

You can’t access the current issue of the magazine on the Web, and I certainly encourage you to subscribe to it. However, I have posted our article on my website, and you can read it here.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

4 Comments

  1. Congrats Larry, staff, and students!

    Larry, it says the school did not make AYP for 6 years. How long have you been at the school? Also, do you believe where your school is now in terms of student achievement is better than before NCLB? Would it be fair to say NCLB helped your school to change for the better or were you on this track already? More on how the new school philosophy was developed?

    (Please note I am not for or against NCLB and am not asking you to make a choice, but I have found it helpful to see how different schools or districts have embraced or rejected changes associated with NCLB only.)

  2. FeFe,

    You raise some excellent questions. I’m generally quite hostile towards NCLB, and believe it encourages the “teaching-to-the-test” mind-set that our school doesn’t believe in.

    I became a teacher at our school five years ago, though, and can’t honestly say for sure that our change-over (and the additional financial resources we gained) would have received the same kind of “push” without NCLB. It might very well have (and I hope it would have), but I’m going to ask our principal that question.

    You might also find a recent Education Week article about us helpful to answering some of your other questions:

    http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning-the-language/2008/07/educators_at_luther_burbank_te.html

    Larry

  3. Larry, your insight is invaluable. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to Mr. Appel’s response.

    In light of your recent post on Jun 17th, “A Broader, Bolder Approach To Education”, I find the topic relating to the approach of change within a school due to NCLB timely. With a change in government on the horizon, what change will be in store for NCLB and will it be just as polarizing or change inducing? What will happen to IDEA which is aligned with NCLB? I haven’t a clue but finding or identifying how schools have used the overall goals of NCLB for improvement in a model that does not teach-to-the-test and includes all subgroups is something to learn from for my single classroom. Dare I dream it could have bigger implications?

    I am touched by the numerous visits your teachers make to the homes of struggling students. I can imagine it must be a learning experience for all of those involved including the teachers. I find this a difficult sell, unfortunately. Teachers are sometimes reluctant to even have a parent in the classroom and when one parent gets “too” active, I am sorry to say I have found them turned away. I would cherish a post from you about this. Did the teachers find more visits to the classroom from parents by increasing communication?

    While I understand the ache of being listed as a “bad” school, didn’t the community outreach address this issue? I would think having to speak to parents about specifics to address the student needs in relation to not meeting AYP would lead to a stronger sense of community and less transfers. Did your school find this so?

    You all are an inspiration.

  4. Any update, Larry?

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