By John Lynds
East Boston State Rep. Adrian Madaro joined his colleagues last week to pass a bill that will help hundreds of English learners in East Boston
The bill, ‘An Act for Language Opportunity for Our Kids’ will allow Boston Public Schools and other school districts to implement alternative English Language Learner (ELL) programs.
Madaro said in his district of Eastie, understanding that Massachusetts’ ELL population is incredibly diverse, the proposed change will allow for more flexibility so that districts can tailor programs to better meet the specific needs of the ELL population.
English learners are the fastest growing student population and while academic achievement has improved for other minority populations, significant achievement gaps persist for ELL students.
Madaro said this legislation seeks to remedy that discrepancy.
“The flexibility measures in this bill allow us to provide every child with an education that meets their individual needs, because school districts will be able to create programs that best serve their students,” said Madaro. “It is our responsibility to create a positive learning environment for our children, and I am certain that the increased level of parental involvement supported by this legislation will help our ELL students find academic success.”
According to the bill’s language, in order to ensure accountability and effectiveness, the legislation will establish a 17-person commission to review the collection and dissemination of ELL data and make recommendations on improvements. It also enhances existing reporting requirements to ensure ELL students are making academic progress as a result of classroom programming.
“In addition, this legislation further supports parental involvement for ELL families, requiring the establishment of English Learner Parent Advisory Councils in districts that serve more than 100 ELL students or in which English learners comprise more than five percent of the student population, whichever is fewer,” said Madaro. “It also expands the current waiver process to allow a school, on the recommendation of a teacher or guidance counselor, to obtain the waiver for the individual student.”