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Click here for the full copy of OBEWL's Fall 2018 Newsletter.

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News from Assistant Commissioner of Bilingual Education and World Languages Lissette Colón-Collins

Fall 2018

Dear Colleagues,
We can't believe it is the end of October already! As the fall season progresses we take note of the opportunities to make a difference in the lives of New York State children and to reflect upon the progress that they are making. We are excited to share that the graduation rate of Ever ELLs is on par with the graduation rate of Never-ELLs, and they are continuing to perform well on the ELA and Math assessments. Multilingual learners throughout the state are earning the Seal of Biliteracy, participating in the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Program (PR/HYLI), volunteering in their communities, and showing leadership in their schools. We want you to get to know some of these young achievers, and through the OBEWL newsletter we will be sharing their compelling stories, starting with Aruasy Barrios, a differently-abled graduating senior from Solvay High School who participated in PR/HYLI and earned the Seal of Biliteracy. Ms. Barrios, who is fluent in Spanish, English, and American Sign Language, delivered a thought-provoking presentation on racial profiling for her Seal of Biliteracy portfolio presentation. You can learn more about her in the article following this letter.

While we celebrate our students' successes, we must also be aware of the work that still needs to be done. As the diversity of the NYS school-age population increases, what it takes to be “literate” in today’s society is increasing. Given these shifts, a large percentage of ELLs/MLLs and their peers need more targeted literacy instruction. Many of these students do not possess the advanced literacy skills needed for success in their high school and college careers. By advanced literacy skills we mean the skills and competencies that enable sophisticated communication, spoken and written. As you continue to make decisions for this school year, we want to renew our commitment to supporting your communities by developing resources that will facilitate the promotion of advanced literacy skills among all ELLs/MLLs, regardless of their stage of language proficiency. These resources will include but are not limited to modules, exemplary units (based on the guidance shared in the Advanced Literacies Instruction: Spotlight on Units of Study), leadership, and teacher tools.

We continue to deepen the work by making data-driven decisions, as well as meeting with educators throughout the state to learn about their needs and to create resources that enhance instruction. We would like to share some of the current projects, including the new Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework and the formation of a practitioner work group focused on World Language standards revision. This newsletter also features information on current efforts to build capacity by addressing teacher shortages and an introduction to OBEWL's talented summer interns, who joined us last summer.
As a reminder, please take note of the following:

  • The NYS World Languages in the 21st Century conference will take place in Saratoga Springs, NY on November 6, 2018. If you plan to attend, please register as soon as possible on Eventbrite.
  • Data Collection for Displaced Students: OBEWL will again collect data on enrollment of students who were displaced from the previous year’s natural disasters. All superintendents are required to complete the NYSED Disaster Displaced Student Survey on a monthly basis. Submissions are due on the 28th of each month.
  • Thank you to districts for submitting the Comprehensive ELL Education Plan (CEEP). As you might know, October is National Dropout Prevention Month. The CEEP now includes a new section (Section I) asking all districts to outline a plan for improving the retention and graduation rates of its ELLs/MLLs. We look forward to learning more about what districts are doing to prevent students from dropping out and creating additional opportunities for them to graduate.
  • On July 19, 2018, Senior Deputy Commissioner for Education Policy Jhone M. Ebert and Deputy Commissioner for P-12 Instructional Support Angelica Infante-Green released a memo providing guidance on re-registering students in NYS school districts. This memo followed public concerns and inquiries indicating that some districts have instituted a practice of mandatory “re-registration” wherein all parents and guardians are required to “re-register” their students in such districts prior to the start of school in September 2018. The memo reviewed regulations pursuant to this practice, which is inconsistent with the regulation and its intent.
  • The Department has issued a memorandum outlining the amended process for approval of assessments leading to a 4+1 Pathway in Career and Technical Education. The streamlined process will now allow +1 pathway CTE technical assessments to be approved as a component of an application for CTE Program Approval, rather than through a separate application process. CTE technical assessments aligned with approved CTE programs of study that allow for technical endorsement on the high school diploma will be considered as approved +1 Pathway Assessments and may be used as the fifth required exam toward graduation. A copy of the memo will be posted on the Multiple Pathways website.  
  • New York State will use seven indicators as part of its overall ESSA plan, including an indicator for English Language Proficiency (ELP). To ensure that English Language Learners/Multilingual Learners (ELLs/MLLs) are showing adequate progress, NYSED will use a growth model that is based on student performance on the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT). Each school and district will have a unique growth target based on their population of ELLs/MLLs. New York State will provide schools and districts with their growth targets by early Fall 2018. 

In closing, we want to thank all the stakeholders across New York State who joined us for our summer focus groups to discuss how we can best meet the needs of our diverse English Language Learners/Multilingual Learners. Your honest feedback about Integrated ENL confirmed that our ELLs/MLLs benefit from best practices that include rigorous and culturally responsive content-based instruction. We will continue to support districts to ensure that all ELLs/MLLs receive the appropriate instruction in order to graduate college and career ready. We have also taken into consideration each recommendation of the focus groups while planning for future professional development opportunities in order to help schools meet the challenges they face when addressing the needs of our ELLs/MLLs.

Again, we want to thank all of you for your continuous commitment to support all ELLs/MLLs across New York State! I encourage you to share with us your stories of Multilingual Learner achievements, so that we can spotlight those students, like Aruasy Barrios and our Seal of Biliteracy recipients, who make us proud and remind us of why we do what we do.

Lissette Colón-Collins
Assistant Commissioner of Bilingual Education and World Languages

Updated: 11/2/18