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English learners fail to achieve targets

Fewer Oregon public school pupils whose native language is not English met federal learning targets last year, and students in the Hillsboro School District were no exception.

Among the 3,057 students designated as English Language Learners in the district, only 33 percent moved up by one level of English proficiency in 2012-13, according to an Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAO) report from the Oregon Department of Education.

Less than 10 percent of ELL students exited the program or reached English language proficiency last year.

And only 18 percent of students in Hillsboro’s ELL program for five years reached proficiency or exited the program.

The report, released Sept. 5, gave Hillsboro “not met” ratings in three separate target areas.

ODE Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton said that statewide, fewer students made the expected gains in language acquisition, proficiency and program exits than the year before — resulting in a widening gap between federal goals and student outcomes.

Across Oregon, only 34 percent of ELL students moved up by one level of English proficiency, down from 50 percent last year. The percentage of ELL pupils reaching proficiency and exiting the program was 14 percent, down from 16 percent last year. And the percentage of Oregon’s fifth-year ELL students reaching proficiency was 28 percent, down from 32 percent last year.

Saxton noted that new, more rigorous Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math could help turn Oregon’s ELL results around.

“Our education system is in a time of change, but that change isn’t happening fast enough for our English learners,” Saxton said. “Declines like we saw [last] year just reaffirm the need for significant changes to how we support, teach and assess our state’s English learners.”

Around 10 percent of Oregon’s students are non-native English speakers receiving English Language Development services, according to the report. The most common first language for these students is Spanish, followed by Russian, Vietnamese and Chinese. More than 150 languages are spoken by Oregon students and their families.




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