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Oregon Blog

Oregon Department of Education working to improve outcomes for English learners

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The Oregon Department of Education wants to improve investments in English learners, a rapidly growing demographic in Oregon schools.

Currently, Oregon graduates less than half of its English language learners (ELLs). Furthermore, our state school fund unintentionally incentivizes keeping students in English language programs, when data tells us that students are more likely to graduate if they complete English instruction before entering high school. In fact, ELLs who complete English instruction before entering high school are more likely to graduate than native speakers, according to the Oregon Department of Education.

The Oregon Department of Education presented recommendations to modify the state’s education budget and improve outcomes for ELLs in a meeting with the Oregon Education Investment Board’s Subcommittee on Outcomes and Investment. We’ve summarized those recommendations in the outline below:

Current Policy
 

 

ODE Recommendations
 

Districts received a weight of 0.5 in additional funding, or about $3,725, per ELL student.
 

 

Districts receive a weight of .6 in additional funding, or about $4,500, per ELL student.
 

Currently, districts are not required to spend these funds on ELL students.
 

 

Districts are required to spend a minimum of 90% of the extra weight on ELL students.
 

There is no maximum number of years the district can receive the weighted funding for each ELL student. (See our previous blog post, “End the perverse incentive to keep kids in ELD.”)
 

 

Districts receive the additional weight for seven years for students who begin at levels one and two (out of five). Districts receive the additional weight for four years for students who begin at levels three and four. Extra weight is claimed even if the student becomes proficient in English and exits the program in fewer than the seven or four years.
 

  Districts receive an additional $250 incentive when a student who was ever an English learner graduates with a diploma.

 

I’m sure we will see these proposals evolve as more eyes are on them, but for now, I’d love to hear what you think about this strategy to improve equity in Oregon’s public education system. Please comment, or email comments to orinfo@stand.org.

Sources:

Toya Fick is the new executive director at Stand for Children Oregon. For the past two years, she was the government affairs director at Stand Oregon. Previously, she taught middle school science at KIPP, DC and was a policy advisor to Senator Hillary Clinton. Read more about Toya.

Comments

I completely support the recommendation that the ELL funds should be spend directly on ELL students. I would like to know how those funds are spent.

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