Is a Charter School Helping Solve English Language Acquisition Challenge for ELL Students?

Actually, the title of the post could have been "Are Charter Schools Helping Solve…" as this story is not limited to just a single school, but I digress... It's fairly common knowledge that California is the state with the highest population of kids in grades K-12 who are classified as ELL, over 1.2 million - a whopping 22.3% of all students! This size of a challenge requires an open mind and a multi-prong approach to address, let alone solve. That's why it's important for teachers, administrators and parents from all types of schools take a look at what's working for the Charter schools of California who have seen rapid improvement of language acquisition for their ELL students. From the Orange County Register, a study sponsored by the California Charter Schools Association found that ELL students in some of California's charter schools see a 19% advantage in their skill acquisition versus those same students at traditional public schools. Now, I know there are strong feelings about Charter schools in the US so it would be crazy to just depend on a stat from a charter school association. But, a Stanford sponsored study on the same topic found that ELL students in California charter schools did indeed see an acquisition gap in ELL kids in charter schools versus traditional public. This is worth investigating. 

It appears that the approach used in the charter schools that were studied included "differentiated instruction to tailor lessons to students learning English, intervention strategies that focus on the early identification of students with learning needs, break outs for small group instruction and extended English language development courses". It's a mix of methods and tools that are showing success in these schools, which is considerably better than a 'one size fits all' type of approach that never seems to "fit" enough students. It should also be noted that the schools in the study have missions that focused on "inclusiveness, language mastery and college readiness for their students" - though I would say any school of any stripe would have the same goals for their students regardless of their language challenges.

Anyway, it's an interesting read about approaches that are working for some schools. Please don't take this as an endorsement of Charter schools, as I personally have no experience working with these, but I know for some it's a 'third rail' topic. Just view it through the lens of a different school system trying things that are working for their ELL kids. It's worth the time to take a look, here's the direct link to the article in the OC Register: