On Monday, the United States Department of Education and the Department of Justice announced the completion of the EL Tool Kit, to help ensure that access to high-quality education is available to English language learners (ELLs).
The announcement was given by Vanita Gupta, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General during the press conference at Washington, D.C.’s Bruce-Monroe Elementary School. She also heads the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division
In relation to the announcement, the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, released a statement saying that their work was prompted by their belief that all students need and merit an education that is world class.
The statement also stated that the newly completed kit, which consists of 10 chapters, is a companion to the English Learner Guidance that the Department of Education released last January. Across the United States there are over 5 million ELLs who are in the public schools, and they make up about 10 percent of the student population in public schools. The guide serves as a reminder to the schools that under federal law, they have the obligation to serve the ELL students.
Tool kit content
The chapters of the tool kit provide teachers with the resources to identify, integrate and serve the English language learners in the country. There are tools on how the educators could design programs of high quality for the ELLs and how they can evaluate their programs’ effectiveness. It also includes ways in which unnecessary segregation can be prevented, how to provide qualified educators, ensuring access to activities and school programs, including the services directed at people with disabilities. Moreover, it includes the timely exit of learners from the English language programs, student progress monitoring and providing support to parents with limited proficiency in the English language.
Gupta said that their visits to classrooms reminded them that the rich diversity of the nation is reflected by these ELLs who are exhibiting their great desire to learn. The English language guide and the new companion toolkit are meant to equip educators with the effective methods to break down the language barriers that hinder their learning.
The Department of Education wants to extend the opportunity and equity in education through the tool kit as well as to pay tribute to the Hispanic Heritage Month. It is also part of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics’ 25th year anniversary. Gupta encourages all schools and states to use the guides so that they could help these English language students to reach their full potential and succeed in school as well as in their future careers.
Libia Gil, who is a director and assistant deputy secretary of the U.S. Education Department’s Office of English Language Acquisition, said that the ELLs are valuable assets that are yet to be tapped. They bring with them heritage languages that U.S. schools should value and preserve as well.