Maryland Lacks Resources To Keep Pace With Growing Population Of English Learners

Students read books at Govans Elementary School. Screenshot via @baltcityschools on Instagram.

What’s happening?

While the population of English learners continues to grow rapidly in Maryland, the state does not yet have adequate resources to accommodate these students, Sabrina LaBoeuf reports for the Baltimore Sun. Maryland public schools graduate less than half of their multilingual students—one of the lowest rates in the country, according to 2015-16 data from the U.S. Department of Education. 

What needs are necessary for the state to address?

State superintendent Mohammed Choudhury is heading the Workgroup on English Learners in Public Schools, a group charged with using education funding legislation—called the Maryland Blueprint—to improve resources for multilingual learners. Though the current Blueprint includes funding for English as a second language programs (ESOL), it doesn’t specifically address how to adapt resources to an increasing student population. 

In the Baltimore City Public Schools system, ESOL students are the fastest growing population, which has doubled over the past six and a half years and continues to increase by 15% each year. Baltimore County schools have also experienced a sharp rise in ESOL students. 

Though schools in Baltimore have increased some resources for these students, such as expanding faculty training to assist multilingual families and adding ESOL coaches to more high schools, Choudhury’s group also highlighted additional areas of improvement in an interim report. These changes include creating dual-language immersion schools and expanding training so that all school employees have the skills to interact with multilingual families. 

Anything else I should know? 

Baltimore County schools also operate the ​​English to Speakers of Other Languages Welcome Center, a facility in Catonsville dedicated to helping multilingual families register ESOL students and access necessary resources.  
You can read more here.

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