Memorandum of Understanding Between State Education Department and NYC Department of Education Will Ensure Better Outcomes For English Language Learners

  • Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 Updated: Mon Apr 23, 2018

Over the past 10 years, New York State ELL student enrollment has increased by 20 percent

Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch, State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. and New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to ensure better outcomes for English Language Learners (ELLs). The announcement took place in front of ELL advocates and state and city education leaders at the Instituto Cervantes in New York City.

The New York State Board of Regents recently adopted amendments to Part 154 of the Regulations of the Commissioner, which sets standards for educational services provided to ELL students in New York State. In response to the changes, the City has committed to ensure English Language Learners will receive appropriate educational services. The MOU sets guidelines for the City in the following focus areas: programs and services for English Language Learners; identification/placement of ELLs and parent information; certified teachers and staffing; and accountability. The agreement describes and confirms the shared understanding the State Education Department and the City Department of Education have to ensure the academic success of English Language Learners.

The announcement comes as the nation recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of Lau v. Nichols, the landmark Supreme Court case that ensured and expanded the rights of ELL students.

“The Board of Regents is focused on improving instruction and increasing opportunity for ELL students,” Chancellor Tisch said. “This is a great next step toward making sure ELL students have the best possible chance to succeed. The achievement gap is very real and very tragic, but the MOU we’re signing today is a great opportunity to make real progress toward closing that gap.”

“This commitment is critical as we move forward to improve instruction and programming for English Language Learners,” Commissioner King said. “The targets and the new regulations give the City a clear path to provide better support for our ELL students. In New York and across the nation, there is a large and unacceptable achievement gap for ELLs.  Our goal is to make sure all of our students in the City and across the state have the right services to help them succeed.”

“This is a bold step forward towards ensuring educational equity, access, and opportunity for all of our ELL students,” Chancellor Fariña said. “As a former ELL myself, I know agreement reflects our commitment to inclusion and great educational outcomes for ELL students. As the State and the City collaborate, and as we engage parents, families, and school communities in our necessary and arduous efforts to raise achievement, I am confident that we will – at long last – give our ELL students the services they need and put them on the path to college, the jobs of today and tomorrow, and the chance at the American dream that all our students deserve.”

“We have a moral imperative to serve these students,” Board of Regents member Betty Rosa said. “We need to support them in language development and provide them with equity and access. New York City’s commitment is a strong signal that we are moving in the right direction in New York State.”

Over the past 10 years, New York State ELL student enrollment has increased by 20 percent. There are presently more than 230,000 ELLs in New York State (8.9 percent of the total student population). For more than 60 percent of New York’s ELLs, Spanish is the home language. In addition, 41.2 percent were born in another country. During the 2012-13 school year, 145,509 New York City students (14.8 percent of New York City’s student population) were identified as English Language Learners. Those students speak 166 languages other than English.

Earlier this year, the State Education Department released “The Blueprint for English Language Learners (ELLs) Success,” a statewide framework of eight guiding principles for administrators, policy makers, and practitioners to prepare ELLs for success beginning in prekindergarten to lay the foundation for college and career readiness. The principles in “The Blueprint for English Language Learner Success” provide guidance, resources, and supports to districts, schools and teachers to promote an understanding and appreciation of Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language, and Foreign Language Studies. The “Blueprint for English Language Learners Success” is available online via the Blueprint for ELL Success whitepaper.

“We are very excited about the strong commitment that New York City is making to align with our new vision for English Language Learners across the state,” said Associate Commissioner, Angelica Infante.

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