One in five California public school students is learning English in addition to the language they speak at home. Language diversity is one of California’s greatest resources and contributes to the state’s vibrant culture and its strong economy. Supporting dual-language learners should be a priority for every district and county office of education. With this in mind, the California State Board of Education in 2017 adopted the English Learner Roadmap, a guide that envisions the education of English learners as a systemwide responsibility, recognizes the need to provide EL students with a rich and challenging curriculum from early childhood to grade 12, and respects the value of English learners’ primary language and culture. In addition, the Roadmap includes a set of four interrelated research-based principles along with examples and tools to guide local educational agencies on a path toward meeting that vision.
A collection of resources for advocates to support local implementation of the English Learner Roadmap and ensure the rights of ELs is now available from the Education Trust–West. The three-part English learner advocacy toolkit is designed to help families and other community members learn about California’s new vision for educating English learners, start conversations about how to make that vision a reality and understand the legal rights to which English learners and their families are entitled. All three resources are available in English and Spanish. By reviewing the resources, district and county office of education boards can ensure they understand the goals of the Roadmap and are setting policy and direction that align with its vision and principles.
Four principles of the English Learner Roadmap
The four principles of the Roadmap are intended to align all levels of the education system in supporting English learner education.
- Assets-oriented and needs-responsive schools: Schools respond to the strengths, needs and identities of EL students.
- Intellectual quality of instruction and meaningful access: Els have access to the full standards-based and relevant curriculum and quality instruction in English and other languages.
- System conditions that support effectiveness: Each level of the school system (state, county, district, school, preschool) is responsive to the strengths and needs of English learners and their communities and provides resources, tiered support and professional development to meet those needs.
- Alignment and articulation within and across systems: ELs experience a coherent, articulated and aligned set of practices and pathways across grade levels to prepare students for a multilingual, diverse 21st-century world.
Local policy and practices that support the vision of the Roadmap may include the introduction or expansion of dual-language programs and other strategies to help ELs access the full curriculum and enroll in A-G courses, to name just a few examples.
The advocacy toolkit also includes “10 questions to ask your school or district about California’s English Learner Roadmap” to help family and community advocates explore the EL policies their district is implementing. Examples include looking into the pathways and programs already available; examining how the district is working with parents and families of ELs to see what additional supports are needed; producing evidence that the Roadmap is reflected in district Local Control and Accountability Plan; evaluating how Local Control Funding Formula dollars are being used to increase and improve services for ELs.
The final piece of the advocacy toolkit outlines 10 key state and federal laws that protect the rights of English learners. By reviewing this document, board members can ensure they are following Education Code that supports a high-quality education for English learner students.
CSBA also provides guidance and information on providing a meaningful 21st-century education for English learner students at www.csba.org/englishlearners.