**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** NOVEMBER 5, 2015
Contact: Khan Shoieb, [email protected], (646) 650-5503
NEW REPORT, “DREAM DENIED”, SHOWS CITY SCHOOLS FAILING ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS: NEARLY HALF MAKING NO PROGRESS
Data Shows Need for Bold Action to Ensure Latino Students Have Equal Access to Quality Schools
President of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: “Report is a wake-up call to show just how far New York City must still go to give its ELL students the education they deserve.”
NEW YORK, NY— A new report (attached) by Families for Excellent Schools examines the devastating impacts of educational inequality on New York City’s English Language Learners and finds that almost half of all ELL students made no progress toward learning English on proficiency exams during the 2014 school year. The poor quality of the education ELL students receive has the most serious consequences for New York City’s Latino community, as nearly two-thirds of ELL students are Spanish-speaking.
The report, “Dream Denied: How New York City Condemns English Language Learners to Separate and Unequal Schools,” finds that of the city’s 95,000 ELL students in grades K-8, almost 50% — or 45,100 — demonstrated no movement on the 2014 New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT), an annual exam administered to all ELL students as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001.
The poor quality of ELL education in New York City cannot be ascribed to a few bad apples with concentrated numbers of ELL students. At more than half, or 292, of all elementary and middle schools with reliable ELL data, 50% or more of ELL students failed to make any progress–demonstrating a widespread failure across city schools to serve ELL students.
But the effects of poor ELL education for entire communities in New York City are not restricted to the English language. The percentage of Latino students able to do math at grade level across the 568 elementary and middle schools with significant populations of ELLs actually declined in 2015, erasing any progress from the prior school year.
The victims of this educational tragedy are overwhelmingly Latino children, many of them poor; Spanish native speakers make up 62% of the school system’s ELL population. These students are being failed most dramatically in neighborhoods such as Bushwick, East Harlem, Washington Heights, and multiple sections of the Bronx. They comprise the backbones of New York City’s Puerto Rican, Dominican, Salvadorian and Mexican communities.
“This report is a wake-up call to show just how far New York City must still go to give its ELL students the education they deserve,” said Nick Lugo, President of the NYC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “We need to see bold change that gives these students seats at high-quality schools, especially in our Latino communities.”
“Separate and unequal schools are having some of their most devastating impacts on New York City’s Latino communities,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of Families for Excellent Schools. “Right now, half of ELL students aren’t learning English, and fixing it will take more than tweaks to existing programs that are failing. All children need immediate access to high-quality schools.”
- Of the city’s 95,000 ELL students in grades K-8, almost 50% — or 45,100 — demonstrated no movement on failed to show improvement on the 2014 New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT), an annual exam administered to all ELL students as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001.
- Within 292 elementary and middle schools, less than half of ELL students failed to make any progress toward English fluency. More than 60% of these schools have also either declined in math or improved by less than one percentage point.
- Across the 568 elementary and middle schools with reliable ELL progress data (more than 10 ELL students), the percentage of Latino students able to do math at grade level actually declined in 2015.
- For the 116 elementary schools where less than half of ELL students failed to make any progress toward English fluency, the schools commonly send students to below-average middle schools 79% of the time and a high-performing middle school just 3% of the time.
- At the 165 middle schools where less than half of ELL students failed to make any progress toward English fluency, the schools commonly send students to below-average high schools 80% of the time and a high-performing high school just 3% of the time. Fewer than 1 in 6 will graduate prepared for college-level work.
This paper analyzes the progress of English Language Learners at elementary and middle schools across New York City, as documented on School Quality Reviews published by the city Department of Education. For each school, the city reported what percentage of students took a step toward language fluency in 2014 by accomplishing any one of the following:
- Increasing their performance level on the NYSESLAT compared with the previous year. The NYSESLAT is an annual exam given to every English Language Learner until he or she scores at a level demonstrating academic fluency.
- Scoring at the intermediate level or higher on the NYSESLAT, if taking the exam for the first time.
- Passing the 2014 state exam in English Language Arts after having failed it the previous year.
- When presenting citywide results, this study refers to a weighted average of all schools for which progress data is available. When presenting school-level findings, this study reflects the 568 schools whose data the DOE considers reliable. It excludes schools with fewer than 10 ELLs, schools in the process of closing, and schools that were in their first year of operation.
Disturbingly, at the average city public school, only about half of students learning English make any progress toward learning English. We call special attention to schools in two groups:
- Very poor: Schools where 70% of ELLs or more fail to make any progress
- Poor: Schools where between 50% and 69% of ELLs fail to make any progress