Reforming Decades Old ELL Policy

Legislation | 12/29/2019

Martin Ramirez
Communications Director

As this decade ends, we are reminded that for nearly two decades, English Language Learners have been isolated from core classes.

That was the norm and the reality — and it required ELL students to be placed in four-hour blocks of language isolation during the school day.

The results were telling. According to the state’s report card, ELL students scored below all other subgroups in every grade level and subject area, including students with special needs, as a direct result of this policy.

At the beginning of this journey, Stand Arizona first extensively researched the issue. We studied policies in other states, looked at budgets, and talked to students and parents. After this extensive research, we drafted the legislation for SB 1014.

Yes, we encountered many setbacks during the legislative session, After months of hard work, the bill passed the legislature, and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed SB 1014 into law. With the stroke of his pen, Governor Ducey reinvented the landscape for ELL students to succeed.

The new law will now allow ELL students to spend more time interacting with native speakers to help them learn English faster. ELL students will now have a minimum of a two-hour language block. Expert educators will have the opportunity to tailor schedules to the needs of their students.

While this legislation passed — we know change is hard. It won’t happen overnight.

It’s going to take all of us working together to support school districts’ implementation of this better policy for our ELL students. Too much is at stake to maintain the status quo.

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