No progress seen for 40% of ESL students


POSTED: Wednesday, January 07, 2009

About 40 percent of Hawaii students learning English as a second language failed to make progress in the 2006-07 school year, according to a national study giving the state a mixed grade on the topic.




Learning English

        Hawaii ranked among states with the highest percentage of English-language learners failing to make progress in the 2006-07 academic year.

Percentage of students lacking progress by state*:


» Maine45%
» New Mexico42%
» Arkansas42%
» Louisiana41%
» Hawaii40%
» Missouri5%
» Delaware5%
» Illinois3%
» Connecticut1%

        *Nine states, including Nebraska, New York, Virginia, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Utah, were not ranked or had incomparable data.


Source: Education Week



Only four states - Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico and Maine - had higher percentages of English-language learners unable to move closer to proficiency, according to Education Week's Quality Counts 2009 report. Data for nine states was either unavailable or not comparable.

The study found that 42.8 percent of the islands' English-language students showed improvements, exceeding the national average of 34.4 percent of students who were on their way to becoming proficient English speakers.

However, the 6 percent of English-language students in Hawaii attaining proficiency was lower than the 16.9 percent national average.

“;I think it shows that we still have room for improvement and yet that we are doing some things right,”; said Andreas Wiegand, educational specialist for the state Education Department's English Language Learner Program.

Meanwhile, the report gave Hawaii's public education system a “;C”; grade, matching the national average, on a review of everything from standards, accountability, spending and college transition.

This year, the annual report focused on the nation's ballooning English-language student population - it reached 5.1 million in the 2005-06 school year, up from 3.2 million a decade earlier - and the challenges states face to prepare teachers, provide support and tailor assessments for the expanding student group.

About a quarter of English-language students in the country failed to show gains in the 2006-07 school year, the study said.

Hawaii's English-language student population rose 42.4 percent to 18,106 students between 2000 and 2005, Wiegand said. There are more than 75 languages spoken by isle students, with the top being Ilocano, Tagalog, Marshallese, Chuukese and Spanish.

“;It certainly can be an additional challenge to have that language diversity when trying to provide supplemental support,”; Wiegand said.