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