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The Kids You Don't See: Arizona's English Language Learners

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Arizona's English Language Learners have the lowest graduation rate in the nation at 18 percent in the 2013-2014 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. There is no federal standard for how to teach English Language Learners.

Arizona's English Language Learners have the lowest graduation rate in the nation at 18 percent in the 2013-2014 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. There is no federal standard for how to teach English Language Learners. Arizona mandates that all English Language Learners be enrolled in a four-hour model for quick language acquisition, a system that went into effect in 2009. It is the only program of its kind in the country. Graduation rates dropped from 48 percent, the year before the model was implemented, to 19 percent in 2014, according to data from the Arizona Department of Education. Advocates have argued that the model creates a barrier to graduation and segregates students by language while the state and immersion advocates maintain that the model is working. The model was the focus of a federal civil rights appeal that eventually ruled in favor of the state. But educators say problems persist. The difference in opinions stem from conflicting philosophies about the best method for language acquisition \u2014 bilingual or immersion. The debate is heated and rightfully so - Hispanic and Latino students make up a majority of the school-aged population meaning the education of their community can have lasting impacts on Arizona's economy. With a growing Hispanic and Latino population nationally, Arizona's education system is put in the national spotlight. If Arizona can get ahold of its education system, one advocate said, the impacts would ripple across the nation.

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Date Created
2016-05