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Click here for the full copy of OBEWL's Spring 2017 Newsletter.

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

Spring 2017

Dear Colleagues,

As I visit schools and districts around the state, I hear of the many ways that you advocate for New York State's English Language Learners (ELLs)/Multilingual Learners (MLLs) and am reminded of your ongoing commitment to their success. We reiterate our commitment to policy proposals that bolster ELL/MLL achievement.

In addition, in these difficult times, we continue to support New York State's immigrant families and are committed to ensuring that their fundamental rights are not violated.  We will do all that we can to ensure that our students and their families are protected and that they are well-informed regarding their rights; thus, we are translating, in as many languages as possible, all department communications and guidance related to immigrant-related actions and the need to maintain a positive school environment and safe haven in the face of possible harassment and intimidation. Please visit our website for full information . 

As you may know, NYSED recently released the 2012 Cohort High School Graduation rates. The performance and graduation rate for ELLs/MLLs is unacceptably low, and the dropout rate is alarmingly high. As we review this data, we must examine the results relative to the needs of the subgroups and consider what we are doing instructionally for our ELLs/MLLs.  We urge you to look at our data and ask this question: what are we doing or not doing that can truly help meet the needs of our ELL/MLL population?  What is my mission?  Do I have a plan of action? 

We assure you that OBEWL is working diligently to create professional learning opportunities and resources to support the work that you are doing. Please scroll down to the end of the newsletter for a list of regional professional development opportunities  currently offered by the RBERNs. In addition, we will continue to advocate for additional funding to support the work that you are doing.

This July, OBEWL will be presenting year three of our ELL/MLL Leadership Institute in conjunction with Stanford University's Understanding Language program.  The goal of the institute is to build upon the expectations of school districts to meet the needs of ELLs/MLLs and increase the level of shared responsibility for the success of ELLs/MLLs in their local educational agencies.  In the context of New York State’s expanding multilingual population, districts will build recognition and understanding of the vision and expectations delivered in the Blueprint for ELL Success. 

The ELL/MLL Leadership Institute is specifically designed to assist districts in developing the capacities to revise their programs to be in compliance with the amended regulations set forth in Commissioner’s Regulations Part 154-2 as adopted by the NYSED Board of Regents in 2014.  District personnel will receive support for learning strategies that integrate language and content instruction through co-teaching and other methods and will develop proficiency in using academic language in core disciplines as part of ELL/MLL instruction. Participants will also develop tools needed to measure and track ELL/MLL progress, to communicate with parents, and to become familiar with systems to identify, assess, and exit students from ELL status. This year's program, which will be led by Stanford's Maria Santos and Kenji Hakuta, will focus on data-driven instruction. We will keep you updated regarding the dates and the locations.

Here are some other things we are working on that may be of interest: 

  • Early childhood: NYSED will propose the use of an Emergent Multilingual Learners Language Profile for Prekindergarten Students as part of a process in which Pre-K educators will be able to determine if a student’s home or primary language is other than English, use the information gathered from the Profile to inform instruction, and provide home language supports to these students while they are learning English.
  • Math component of the Multilingual Literacy SIFE Screener (MLS): The Math section of the MLS is now online, and NYSED will be providing orientation sessions on the MLS and its Math component. New webinars posted on the OBEWL website include a brief overview of the MLS and an introduction to the Math component.
  • Socio-economic and racial diversity: Deputy Commissioner of P-12 Instructional Support Services Angelica Infante-Green is leading an initiative, in alignment with goals articulated by the NYS Board of Regents and the My Brother's Keeper Initiative, to promote diversity in New York State and to provide guidance on strategies that districts can use to develop and innovate integration plans. Look A policy statement will soon be presented to the Board of Regents.  Click here for more information about this initiative.

We are pleased to report that the 1st Annual English Language Learners/Multilingual Learners Literacy Conference exceeded our expectations in terms of interest and attendance.  Educators from around the state convened to learn new ideas and strategies, network, collaborate, inspire, and plant the seeds for future growth. Next year's conference is scheduled for November, so mark your calendars.

Let us be the change we want to see.  Change begins with each of us.

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