60 percent California school students fail English test

Los Angeles, May 29 (IANS) Nearly 60 percent students in California’s high schools are unable to pass English proficiency test despite over six years of US education.

The flaws in English language programmes have put the academic future of hundreds of thousands of children in jeopardy, shattering their college dreams and imperilling the state’s economic future, said a study based on the survey of 40 schools.

Majority of long-term English learners are US citizens who prefer English and are bilingual. But they fail to achieve the proficiency level needed for educational success and disproportionately drop out of high school.

According to Californians Together, a coalition of 22 parent, professional and civil rights organisations, which conducted the study, the offspring of immigrants make up 55 percent of Los Angeles County’s child population.

‘The situation is alarming and urgent,’ said Laurie Olsen, the study’s author. ‘These kids are a large part of our future. But if we don’t have programs that powerfully bring them into English, we’re going to end up increasingly with a state of kids who are undereducated.’

California schools educate 1.6 million English learners, a quarter of all students; they make up the largest concentration of English learners in the nation. But most schools are failing to adequately monitor their progress, train teachers or develop appropriate curriculum, Los Angeles Times reported citing the study.

Many students are not given any special language services, as required by law, and are forced to ‘sink or swim’ in mainstream classes, which widespread research has found produce the worst outcomes, Olsen said.

In addition, the state’s English learners – 85 percent of whom speak Spanish – are often raised in linguistically isolated communities and many suffer from educational interruptions as their families move between countries.

‘One of the heartbreaks is that most kids say they want to go to college and have high dreams for themselves,’ Olsen said. ‘They and their parents don’t realize they’re really in academic jeopardy’.