Ethnic Minority Students Become Majority in the Classroom

By Nick Jones, CEI Intern

This fall marks the first school year that ethnic and racial minority students are the majority in public schools. Such a shift in classroom demographics means that teachers will have to assess how to best meet their students’ needs all the while pushing for better test scores.

Addressing academic weaknesses in English language learners (ELL) has proved challenging all across the country. In Florida for instance, Governor Rick Scott is appealing to the Department of Education to avoid factoring in ELLs’ test scores in annual achievement measures until after two years of English language instruction. Proponents of the governor’s request cite that many Floridian communities are comprised of families with ethnic backgrounds and thus including ELL test scores would not be an accurate measurement of academic success.

ELLIn Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, the second-most populous parish in the state, new data released by the school system indicates that ELLs scored the lowest out of all of the subgroups. Additionally, for the first time this year, the school system kept their English proficiency center open for the entire summer to accommodate the record number of newly immigrated students, most of which came from Central America. Now, approximately 21 percent of the Jefferson Parish student population is Hispanic, a three percent increase from last year, according to The Data Center, a New Orleans research group. Adding to educational challenges, last month, Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, sued the federal government over Common Core testing. Jindal argues that the government is violating the Tenth Amendment by forcing states to implement the Common Core.

In the Midwest, Des Moines Public Schools students make up almost 25 percent of the state’s total student population who receive English proficiency instruction. The largest school district in the state, officials have created two new positions to address the growing needs of non-native English speaking students and manage ELL curriculum.

With the influx of ELL students, many are wondering how educators will adhere to Common Core standards. The Council of the Great City Schools published a guide for teachers to combine ELL instruction with language arts standards outlined in the Common Core curriculum framework. The guide, written by the 67-city school districts consortium, covers everything from appropriate material usage to cultural relevance and respect.

The problem itself is unique, the addition of more and more ELL students in the American public school system is unprecedented and will require ongoing reform and cooperation on behalf of families, teachers, and school officials.

References

Who Lives in New Orleans Now?. (2014, August). In The Data Center. Retrieved 2014, from http://www.datacenterresearch.org/data-resources/who-lives-in-new-orleans-now/

Hussar, W. J., & Bailey, T. M. (2014). Elementary and Secondary Enrollment. In Projections of Education Statistics to 2022(41st ed., pp. 3-6). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved 2014, from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014051.pdf

Instructional Materials for English Language Learners in Urban Public Schools. Washington, DC: Council of the Great City Schools. Retrieved 2014

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One thought on “Ethnic Minority Students Become Majority in the Classroom”

  • I feel that we should be integrating technology into the classroom because if used appropriately it can help students and teachers and make learning more interesting, fun, and easier. I feel at this moment that computers, blogs, and the Internet should not be used as the only form of teaching but I think that it helps and benefits the students and teachers. I think that with using technology you can open children’s minds, keep their attention, and explore things you never could with a book or in the classroom.Blogs in the classroom in my opinion could be a major benefit if they instructor gives the class helpful instructions and if the students understand how to use it. I think that students could help each other with questions they have and an instructor could also see these discussions and help them to. Also students could share notes that they took in case one student was not there or even if someone missed a part of the lecture. Students could also bounce ideas off each other easily and quickly without having to set up a time to meet face to face. It is also an easy way for a teacher to communicate with all there students at one time to give them updates on assignments, give helpful websites/links, or even just to make an announcement.

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