There are 151,000 English learners in New York City public schools, and they face increasingly desperate odds. Dropout rates have risen to the point where more of them are dropping out of school than are graduating from high school. But City students in bilingual education have it even worse, as this paper explains. This comes as especially bad news for the Big Apple’s Hispanic English learners, of whom more than half are in bilingual education.
This paper analyzes official grant documents filed by 58 New York City bilingual education programs with the U.S. Department of Education. What the data illustrate represents several troubling trends in how City bilingual education programs are conducted. Findings include:
Overall accountability is so poor that in many cases it is impossible to determine what proportion of students have made any progress toward English fluency. None of the 58 programs utilizes accountability that would satisfy the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
All available indicators of student progress toward English fluency demonstrate very poor patterns of progress. Among programs that track the rate at which students successfully transition to English fluency, results range from 6 to 10 percent per year.
Many of these programs place emphasis on activities like professional development and teacher workshops, even at the expense of students’ academic progress. Several programs declare their entire first year of federal funding to be “Planning Years,” during which no student instruction occurs.
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