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June Graduation Rates Show Struggling Immigrant Students; New York English Language Learners Face Barriers to Success


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Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 x235,  E-mail: tyaku@thenyic.org
New York  (Monday, June 23, 2014)

June Graduation Rates Show Struggling Immigrant Students; New York English Language Learners Face Barriers to Success

Graduation rates released today reveal that the future of New York State’s English language learners (ELLs) is in jeopardy. These students – many of whom are newcomers from every corner of the globe with enormous potential - continue to lag far behind their English speaking peers with an achievement gap of 47 percentage points. While there has been a slow but steady improvement in graduation rates for many students, and noteworthy improvement for many students in New York City, that is not the case for students who are still learning English. Statewide, June graduation rates have dropped for a third year in a row, with a four-year graduation rate of 31.4%. The five-year graduation rate dropped by nearly 6%.

At the state level, these latest figures underscore the need to create multiple pathways to a high school diploma so that ELLs who have mastered appropriately high standards aren’t shut out of getting a high school diploma. The New York State Education Department (NYSED)’s recently released Blueprint for English Language Learners’ Success provides valuable, much-needed guidance to schools and districts to prepare ELLs for success in college and careers - but does not address the problem of assessments that don’t accurately show what ELLs know and can do.

The following is a joint statement from Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Claire Sylvan, executive director and president of Internationals Network for Public Schools:

“This year’s graduation rates show that students who are English language learners are in dire need of support to reach their full potential in the New York school system. We are encouraged that NYSED and the Board of Regents have resumed discussion on the possibilities for expanding pathways to graduation. We look forward to the outcome of these discussions, which could provide ELLs with appropriate pathways to a diploma if NYSED and the Regents are able to focus more on addressing the needs of students who are currently not graduating. We applaud efforts from the Regents and NYSED to update and enhance state regulations (part 154) to ensure ELLs are provided programs that offer real opportunities for success.

“We also call on the Governor’s office to implement the recommendation for a statewide task force to address English language learner achievement, recommended by Governor Cuomo’s own New New York Education Reform Commission earlier this year.

“We thank Chancellor Fariña for recognizing the need to support ELLs; this brings a welcome focus on ensuring that all of New York City’s students have a chance to succeed. And we commend her for taking a positive step this month in including an additional $13.3M in the Executive Budget to support ELLs, funding that is badly needed to boost ELL achievement and better engage their parents. With appropriate allocation of these funds, New York City can capitalize on an important opportunity to better prepare teachers to assist ELLs in meeting Common Core Learning Standards and ensure ELLs have access to high-quality educational programs that result in higher graduation rates.

“As the City and State look to boost graduation rates for all students, we stress the need for urgent, coordinated action to ensure that ELLs’ tremendous potential is harnessed and to secure the future of our State and City.”


The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees.The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.

Internationals Network for Public Schools (Internationals) is an educational non-profit working to provide quality public education for recently arrived immigrants by growing and sustaining a strong national network of innovative International High Schools. Internationals also supports states, districts, schools, and educators outside our network to improve the quality of the education of English language learners through a variety of services and aims to influence policy for English language learners (ELLs).


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