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The High Schools English Learners Need Norm Gold Oxnard Union HSD Oxnard, California June 7, 2006. GOAL:. Encourage redesign of high schools to ensure success for all English Learners 2. Perspectives. We know a great deal about how to improve HS for ELs.

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The high schools english learners need norm gold oxnard union hsd oxnard california june 7 2006 l.jpg

The High Schools English Learners NeedNorm GoldOxnard Union HSDOxnard, CaliforniaJune 7, 2006

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Encourage redesign of high schools to ensure success for all English Learners


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  • We know a great deal about how to improve HS for ELs.

  • High schools do not work well for most ELs.

  • The problems in EL education are escalating.

  • We must have a firm commitment to educational equity.

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Definitions of Success

  • Current State and Federal Expectations

  • Individual and Societal Needs

    • Handout/ OH

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ExerciseThink – Write – Pair - Share

  • Choose one of these students.

  • THINK of similar students of these characteristics.

  • WRITE down the keys to high school success for this student.

  • PAIR up, and SHARE your keys with each other.

  • Be prepared to report back.

    • handout

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HS does not work for most ELs Action is needed now!

  • This is urgent!

  • I believe that our responses must be:

    • Definitive

    • Comprehensive

    • Fundamental

    • Long-term

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Diverse Students

  • Long-Term EL

    • Making some progress. Close to grade level, but not optimal achievement.

    • Not making progress. Three or more years behind.

  • Newcomer

    • Strong prior schooling

    • Interrupted schooling; minimal literacy

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Current H.S. A design for almost certain failure for most ELs

  • Goals appear insurmountable to many students and their families.

    • Identity of disconnect and failure for long-term ELs

  • An unfamiliar system for newcomers

    • < 15%

  • Only four years to master English and earn sufficient credits to graduate.

  • College preparation is the only high status outcome.

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English Learners in California

  • A total of 1,591,525 K-12 in 2005*

    • 25.2% of all enrollment California

    • Increased 328,543 (+ 26 percent) since 1995

    • Mostly Spanish-speakers (85%)

    • Also: Vietnamese (2.2%); Hmong (1.4%); Cantonese (1.4%); Tagalog (1.3%); and Korean (1.0%) and many other languages.

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  • 300,000 English Learnersin California high schools

  • We have more in ELs in 9th grade alone (103,952) than the entire K-12 EL enrollments of any state except Arizona, Florida, Illinois, New York or Texas.

  • Only NY and TX have more ELs than our HS EL enrollment.

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Previous Recommendations for ELs

  • Language, culture and school responsiveness

  • Empowering students

  • Specific instructional techniques

  • Organizational structures

  • Teacher training

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Evidence that mostELs are likely to fail HS

  • Standardized NRTs and Assessments of Standards

  • Current grades

  • HS Exit Exam

  • Other data

  • There are, of course, many individual success stories to report… But far too few.

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Grades at one Orange Co. H.S.Percent Ds & Fs - All Academic Courses(2003-04)

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Grades at one Ventura County H.S.Percent Ds & Fs in English 9, 10, 11, 12(2004-05)

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ELs Do Not Complete H.S.

Only 27 % of ELs graduate four years after enrolling in 9th grade.

  • LA USD, 2004-05

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National data on high school completion by ethnicity

CAUTION: ethnicity is distinct from language status

  • All students:

    • 70% graduate

    • 32% leave high school qualified to attend four-year colleges.

  • Black and Hispanic/Latino students:

    • 51% of all black students and 52% of all Hispanic students graduate

    • 20% of all black students and 16% of all Hispanic students WHO GRADUATE (!) leave high school college-ready.

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Controlling Myths and Responses:ELs and High School

  • The following myths appear to control state and local policy and practice in high schools.

  • There is enormous urgency to make improvements

  • These improvements can only be made if we take control of the public debate about high school for English learners

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Myth 1:ELs bring only NEED

  • Inventory all prior education; identify strengths

  • Assess competence in primary language

  • Establish early school-to-home connections

  • Conduct ongoing asset inventory

  • Provide programs that value competencies developed out-of-school: resilience, leadership.

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Myth 2: ELD is all they need

  • Provide COMPLETE program for ELs, including primary language content, and multicultural competency.

  • Plan full integration of ELs with others.

  • IMPROVE ELD instruction.

  • Professional development for ALL personnel.

  • Hire teachers, counselors with language and cultural competencies and specific EL preparation.

  • Promote school-wide focus on languages.

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2: continued…

  • Provide instruction in primary language, whenever possible and appropriate.

  • Challenge students and place in classes where they can succeed

    • Recognize that > 70% are long-term ELs

  • Create cohorts of students with comprehensive support.

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Myth 3:Current Calendar and Clock are Sacred

  • Expand time to five or more years for those who need and want it.

  • Expand school day.

  • Encourage any student making progress to remain in school.

  • Adjust calendar to needs of community

  • Change state policies on testing. Recognize L1 competency and ELD as second language (FL).

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Myth 4:HS takes place only in a building called “High School”

  • Consider advantages of some features of secondary schooling used elsewhere: apprenticeships, internships.

  • Offer greater access to evening and part-time classes, online and distance learning options.

  • Explore how to take greater advantage of Community Colleges.

  • Encourage students to challenge entry into courses.

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Myth 5:Only one worthwhile goal and a single “best” path

  • Individualize high school for all students

    • but ensure a common core for all

  • Ensure opportunity for college for all.

  • Place greater attention on supporting transitions from HS to community college, to university AND to careers.

  • Promote courses of study that are routes to high paying, high status jobs…some of which do not require 4-year college.

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California Labor Market in 2010

  • College Level (BA+) Jobs 23.2 %

  • Non College Level Jobs 76.8 %

    There will be seven million openings (new jobs plus replacements) between 2000 and 2010. 68.5% require no college, 23 % require BA+, and 8.5% an AA or some college.

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Myth 5….

  • Small schools may not be the best option for EL students.

  • Strive to create the conditions sought in small schools and small learning communities: common focus, high expectations, personalization, climate of respect and responsibility, time to collaborate, etc.

  • Actively market key features of the redesigned high school to students, parents, wider community.

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The Five Myths to Bust

1. ELs bring nothing except need.

2. ELD is all they need.

3. Current calendar and clock are sacred.

4. HS must take place in a building called “High School”.

5. Only one goal of secondary education and a single best path to its completion.

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Some Likely Barriers

  • Frosh to Senior “class” distinctions

  • Clock and calendar, CAHSEE schedule

  • NCLB and State Accountability Timelines/ Testing

  • Transportation system

  • Teacher work rules and contracts

  • Cost of teachers, classrooms and instructional materials

  • Traditions

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What Can We Do?

  • School Boards?

  • CDE?

  • Governor? Legislature?

  • What can YOU do?

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Two Students

  • Vianeli

  • Efraín

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If we fail to take action,

Vianeli and Efraín, and tens of thousands of English Learners will follow pathways to probable failure.

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If we act thoughtfully now,

English Learners will have many pathways to probable success.

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Many thanks to:

Julie Maxwell-Jolly and Patricia Gándara

Also to:

Sheila Budman, Lauri Burnham-Massey, Rebecca Callahan, Jesús Contreras, Ted Hamann, Karen Kendall, Toni Marsnik, Laurie Olsen, Peter Schilla, and Fred Tempes.

Teachers and administrators in:

Desert Sands USD, Hayward USD, Newport-Mesa USD, Parlier USD, Sacramento City USD, Santa Ana USD, Ventura USD, West Contra Costa USD.

University of California, Linguistic Minority Research Institute

Download complete paper:


Norm Gold • [email protected] • (916) 731-4734