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Good Schools for All

A podcast about education. In each episode, hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn (Education Synergy Alliance) cut through the jargon and debate to explain education in the 21st century. Lewis and Kohn highlight successes, failures and solutions in the system and interview thought leaders at national, state and local levels.

May 1, 2017

There's no one comprehensive strategy behind educating English-learners in California. Instead, it's a mishmash of programs, many of which leave students struggling to learn English for years.

This week, cohosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn discuss what research is showing to be the best ways to educate English-learners.

Author and education expert Ruby Takanishi joins the show to talk about a recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that examined the most effective ways to educate English-learners.

Takanishi said that even though more and more educators and researchers are promoting multilingualism at schools, school districts in several states are still lagging in providing adequate resources for students who don't speak English.

"It is very clear that (English-language learners) in all states throughout the country are really at the bottom of the charts," she said. "They have widest achievement disparities among different groups, including racial ethnic groups and economic groups."

Takanishi chaired the committee behind the report, which found that it takes an average of five to seven years for a student to become proficient in English. On top of the academic challenges that presents, the report showed that many English-learners continue to struggle once they enter the workforce.

Number of the Week

1 in 7: That's the number of long-term English-learners in California. Long-term English-learners are those who enter kindergarten as English-learners and don't speak English fluently for more than six years.

What’s Working

Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School: A local trilingual immersion school highlighted was in the report for its effective multilingual education program and its sophisticated approach to instruction, which includes problem-solving and project-based learning.