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Read Michelle's Story

Michelle, a 20-year-old from Haiti, spoke very little English but had dreams of earning a high school diploma and attending college.

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Policy & Initiatives

Policy Agenda: English Language Learners & Language Access

Policy Agenda: English Language Learners & Language Access

More than 40 percent of students in New York City public schools speak a language other than English at home and more than 14 percent of students in New York City public schools are classified as English Language Learners (ELLs). More than 20 percent of English Language Learners are also classified as students with disabilities. On the 2013 state exams, only three percent of English Language Learners were proficient in reading and 11 percent were proficient in math. We often hear from parents whose English Language Learner students are not in appropriate placements that will meet their language needs. We also hear from Limited English Proficient parents who are unable to participate meaningfully in their children’s education because they cannot understand the school documents they receive or meetings they attend about their child.

We advocate for improved educational programs, opportunities, and outcomes for English Language Learners and improved translation and interpretation for Limited English Proficient parents.

►  Improve Enrollment and Placement Practices:

DOE enrollment offices must inform immigrant families of their options of schools that can serve their students appropriately. The DOE should also create a transfer option for ELLs placed at schools that cannot meet their language needs.

►  Create Additional Programs for ELLs:

The DOE must create additional bilingual general education and special education programs to serve ELLs. The DOE also must create programs to serve different populations of ELLs including Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) and long-term ELLs. The DOE should create additional dual language programs and ensure that these programs are accessible to ELLs.

►  Make the Full Range of Educational Options Accessible to ELLs:

The DOE should make the full range of educational options, including Universal Pre-K, transfer schools, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, accessible to ELLs.

►  Improve Interpretation and Translation for Families:

The DOE must ensure that general education and special education documents are translated for Limited English Proficient families and that families have access to high-quality interpretation at school meetings and events.

Learn more about AFC's work with immigrant students and English Language Learners.