NYS Officials Propose More Teacher Training on English Learners

An English teacher chats about “The Crucible” with her class at ELLIS Prep Academy in the Bronx, a transfer school that serves immigrant students. (Photo by Reema Amin via Chalkbeat)

Proposed amendments to sections of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education would require certain teacher preparation programs to devote part of the curriculum to the development of English language learners (ELL). At the end of March, New York State education policymakers recommended that of the six semester hours required for learning language acquisition and literacy development, at least three would be dedicated specifically to ELLs.

But for those students, who on average have much lower high school graduation rates than the citywide average, would it be enough? Reema Amin writes for Chalkbeat:

Whether this change is enough to address the significant challenges that immigrant students face remains to be seen. Last June, just 29 percent of English language learners across the state and 35 percent in New York City graduated from high school on time, though these rates have gone up slightly in recent years. In New York City, just 10 percent of English language learners scored proficient on their third to eighth-grade reading state exams last year — up from 6 percent the year before (though because of changes to the assessments, state officials have cautioned against making comparisons).

Still, observers say the proposed new requirements suggest the state is taking a closer look at the needs of these students, building on rules passed five years ago that require 15 percent of professional development hours to focus on best approaches to teaching English language learners.

The proposal was issued by John L. D’Agati and and Angelica Infante-Green, both deputy commissioners for higher education in the NYS Education Department. Infante-Green oversaw the city’s ELL division and recently became Rhode Island’s education commissioner.

How far-reaching would the proposals be in terms of the teacher prep programs? What NYC colleges already have curricula pertaining to ELLs? And what does the city’s Education Department offer for educators of ELLs? Find out at Chalkbeat.

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