Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Prioritizing Key Academic Support Systems for Latino English Language Learners in Northern Illinois Public School Districts

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Prioritizing Key Academic Support Systems for Latino English Language Learners in Northern Illinois Public School Districts

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Concerns and frustration continue to mount regarding the academic literacy outcomes of Latino English Language Learners (ELLs). Only 26% of Latino children, ages 3 to 5 years old, have prerequisite school readiness skills (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). Nationally, approximately 5.3 million students in grades K-12 are English Language Learners. These numbers are expected to reach 40% of the nation's schools by 2030 (Wingert, 2014). Latino students typically perform worse as they progress to the next grade level. For example, in Illinois, of those Latino students entering high school, 76 to 84% do not meet the Illinois Learning Standards in reading or mathematics. Approximately 50% of Latinos attain a high school diploma and only 13% earn a bachelor's degree. As a group, Latinos have the lowest educational attainment in the nation (The White House, 2011).

Scant scholarly literature exists regarding statistically robust indicators of high academic literacy outcomes for Latino ELLs. The rigor of academic grade level expectations continues to increase, and with it, a concern for the academic performance of at-risk students. As such, this paper describes how an online survey of Illinois public educators (N=334) and an ensuing multivariate analysis may directly impact the learning outcomes of Latino ELLs.

DEFINITION OF TERMS

The following items are defined here to provide a clear understanding and focus of the study:

1. English Language or Second Language Learners: Student whose first language is not English and who is in the process of learning English (Ariza, 2010).

2. Latino/a English Language Learners: Latino/a students whose first language is not English and are in the process of learning English (Ariza, 2010). The term "Latino" is often used in studies that include people who trace their origins to Spanish-speaking parts of Latin America and the Caribbean (Suarez-Orozco & Paez, 2002). Many studies of educational outcomes group students into a single category (Latino/Latina) but rarely provide disaggregated data by generation or parents' country of origin; in spite of these limitations those studies with valuable data on Latino and Latina students will be referenced in this paper.

3. Limited English Proficient: A term used to describe students who are in the process of acquiring English language skills and knowledge. The federal government refers to this student population as English Language Learners, or ELL. Beginning with the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessment the terminology changed to ELL from LEP (NAEP, 2009).

4. Educational Assessment: Includes process documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs. Assessment can focus on the individual learner, the learning community (class, workshop, or other organized group of learners), the institution, or the educational system as a whole (.Ariza, 2010).

5. No Child Left Behind: The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was passed by Congress to set accountability standards for learning in public school including low-income students, students from each major racial and ethnic group, limited English proficient students and students with disabilities. Under NCLB if a school doesn't make AYP for one of these groups, it doesn't make AYP (Wiener, 2003).

6. Adequate Yearly Progress: Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, is a measurement defined by the United States federal No Child Left Behind Act that allows the U.S. Department of Education to determine how every public school and school district in the country is performing academically according to results on standardized tests. Each state sets benchmark goals to measure whether schools and districts are making AYP with regard to students learning what is determined that they need to know (Wiener, 2003).

7. National Assessment of Educational Progress : The National Assessment of

Educational Progress is a periodic assessment of student progress conducted in the United States by the National Center for Education Statistics, a division of the U. …

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