Original URL: http://www.dailynews.com/Stories/0,1413,200%257E20954%257E942465,00.html

LAUSD seeks more ways to teach English
October 23, 2002
Helen Gao, Daily News (Los Angeles)

Immigrant students in the Los Angeles Unified School District face a double whammy: While struggling to learn English,
they must also meet increasingly stringent benchmarks set by the state to boost accountability.

Recognizing the unique challenges faced by English learners, the Board of Education explored a range of options Tuesday
to improve education for immigrant students, from increasing teacher training to providing counseling and other services.

"It's uneven across the district how we are implementing and providing English-language learners and immigrants with the
additional support they may need," board member Jose Huizar said.

"Research has shown that not one size fits all. English-language learners have some very specific needs."

Huizar, with board member Genethia Hudley Hayes, sponsored a motion asking staffers to return in six months with a plan
on professional development, parent outreach, and an evaluation of English learners and their teachers.

Under the Title III Initiative -- a federal provision of the No Child Left Behind Act -- the district is expected to receive $19.4
million to improve the education of immigrant students.

"This is targeting of resources to the population that is most in need," said Hayes, who is also calling for culturally relevant
materials in the classroom.

Rita Caldera, director of the district's Language Acquisition Branch, proposed that the district focus on boosting training for teachers, many of whom are not certified to teach English learners.

According to a district study, nearly half of the English learners in last year's second-grade classes were taught by
noncertified teachers.

The district may also spend Title III funds to hire instructional advisers, counselors and psychologists or pay for health services, transportation and family education.

According to the district, 54 percent of elementary school students, 31 percent of middle school students and 24 percent of high school students are English learners.

The district is ill-equipped to educate this population following voter approval of Proposition 227, which largely eliminated
bilingual education in favor of English-immersion programs.

"For three years following implementation of Structured English Immersion, there was little professional development designed to help teachers understand how to teach English learners to read in a new language or how to make information comprehensible in English to students with limited proficiency in English," a staff report said.

If the district is to raise its overall academic performance and close the achievement gap between different ethnic groups,
district officials said the needs of immigrant students must be addressed.

On standardized tests, Latino and African-American students generally lag behind white and Asian students.

"Title III is an additional tool in our arsenal to close the achievement gap," Huizar said. "Our scores do show that our
English- language learners are making gains, but they have to make gains at a faster pace to close the gap."


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