Science

Oregon allocates $5M for teaching English as second language

Posted January 9

— Oregon is allocating $5 million to help 40 school districts better teach English as a second language.

Graduation rates and test results from 2015 and 2016 show that three-fourths of the state's ESL students aren't proficient in math, 60 percent can't read well by the end of middle school and one-third never graduate from high school, reported The Oregonian/OregonLive (http://bit.ly/2i91tBb ).

The state is providing funding to the 40 districts it says have done the worst job of helping students learn English. Each district is required to make a custom plan to improve its effectiveness and will be judged on the results achieved by 2020.

Bend-La Pine, Reynolds, Jefferson County and Umatilla school districts are among 15 singled out as having the deepest issues.

Those districts have a large number of students learning English as a second language, and a disproportionate share of them are low-income, have moved frequently, arrived in the U.S. recently or are homeless. The second-language students in those districts have shown very little progress in math skills and language, and they are unlikely to graduate or go to college.

Each of those districts will receive $180,000 this year and is expected to receive the same amount in the next three years.

The other 25 districts will each get $90,000 per year to improve their English learner programs.

Many advocates for students who speak English as a second language and their families say Oregon districts often teach immigrant children ineffectively and spend money meant for English learners on other things.

Leaders of one advocacy group, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, say they are very excited about the plan to improve the state's ESL education.

"I don't think many other states have this level of comprehensive reform and transparency," said Jeanice Chieng, the network's policy manager. "We are excited about the potential for change."

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