15 years of advocacy results in passage of education reform bill
BOSTON –Today, Representative Sánchez’s bill, An Act relative to Language Opportunities for Our Kids, was signed into law. Commonly known as the “LOOK” bill, it modifies current English immersion laws to allow for more inclusive teaching methods for English language learners (ELL) in Massachusetts public schools.
“This is a momentous occasion. I’m proud of the work put in by Speaker DeLeo, House Education Committee Chair Representative Alice Peisch, and so many others over the years that have made this possible,” said Sánchez. “We’ve gone through a generation and a half of kids that have been underperforming in school districts across the Commonwealth. With the passage of this bill, we can begin to turn things around.”
Passed in 2002, the sheltered English immersion law (SEI) mandates one year of intensive English instruction for limited English proficient students before transitioning into regular classrooms. The LOOK bill provides a mechanism for districts to offer English language programs that best fit the needs of their English learner population, while ensuring accountability through department oversight.
15 years after the implementation of SEI English-only classes, the dropout rate for ELL students is 14.9%, compared to 5.6% for non-ELL students. ELL students graduate high school at a rate of 63.9% as opposed to 86.1% for all students. 56% of ELL students failed to score proficient or higher on the MCAS last year.
“I’ve seen how a one size fits all approach is costly and burdensome to schools that are already stretched thin,” Sánchez said in support of the bill. “Through flexibility and accountability, LOOK creates a system where students are able to learn English and succeed academically.”
Additionally, LOOK establishes clear guidelines for parental involvement and creates official teacher certifications for English learner programs. It requires more rigorous data collection on the progress of ELL students, both while they are enrolled in ELL programs and after they shed the designation and are enrolled in regular classrooms, so schools are accountable for the success of ELL students.
“The House has a long legacy of creating opportunities for quality education for every child in the Commonwealth. This bill is going to open doors for ELL students across Massachusetts.”