LEAPs Act Calls for Sea Change in Thinking about Language Skills and Teaching

By Hawkins, Beth | MinnPost.com, April 16, 2014 | Go to article overview

LEAPs Act Calls for Sea Change in Thinking about Language Skills and Teaching


Hawkins, Beth, MinnPost.com


Right now, the fate of Minnesota children who are learning English depends on where and how they end up in school. The least fortunate languish, falling years behind in classrooms where lessons are spooled out in a language they can't understand.

Because conventional wisdom has held that students must learn English before they can conquer academics, others attend school in pull-out classrooms. By the time they are "mainstreamed," they, too, can be years behind.

And it's no small problem. Over the last two decades the number of Minnesota English language learners, or ELLs in education jargon, has grown by more than 300 percent [PDF]. There are now 65,000 enrolled in schools here, 50,000 more than 20 years ago.

Perhaps, then, the most revolutionary piece of legislation expected to emerge from the state Capitol in coming weeks is a long- sought package of reforms laying out strategies proven to bring ELL students to grade level reliably and quickly.

Its provisions merit dissection [PDF], but the most important aspect of the bill is the sea change it calls on educators, policymakers, higher ed and employers to make.

Seeing multilingualism as a big asset

Right now, many perceive the fact that a student is acquiring English as a deficit that needs fixing. ELL advocates, by contrast, insist that Minnesota's prosperity rests on seeing multilingualism as a tremendous asset.

In fact, if the Learning for English Academic Proficiency and Success Act or LEAPS Act, is passed into law this year as expected, all Minnesota high schools graduates who are assessed as fluent in more than one language will receive a special seal on their diploma.

"That's a signal to higher ed and to businesses," said Mary Cecconi, executive director of Parents United. "This person can cross cultures."

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Minnesota ranks 15th nationwide in terms of the number of languages spoken by its students. A multilingual workforce without an achievement gap would put the state at a major advantage.

"The focus for far too long has been on the wrong indicators," Cecconi added. "We need to understand that our job is to teach them content."

In short: No more waiting for a child to conquer English to begin instruction in math, literacy, science or any other subject. And no longer is the goal acculturation.

A new expectation

"It sets the expectation in state law that ELL services be delivered in a way that looks like the home language of the learner," said Rep. Carlos Mariani, the St. Paul DFLer who has been incubating the policy for years along with Sen. Patricia Torres- Ray, DFL-Minneapolis. "I'm pretty proud of it."

Last year, ELL students lagged 20 percentage points behind the state's 79 percent high school graduation rate. Only 28 percent of ELL students scored proficient in math on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs), vs. 61 percent of all students.

Just 17 recent passed reading tests, vs. 58 percent overall. And 12 percent were deemed proficient in science, vs. 53 percent of all students.

During the special session of 2003 then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Legislature balanced the budget in part by making a series of cuts to education. Some $11 million was pared from the ELL funding stream by reducing the number of years students could receive services from seven to five. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

LEAPs Act Calls for Sea Change in Thinking about Language Skills and Teaching
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.