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CCSD fails students unable to speak English, says expert

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Updated: 5/01/2013 9:04 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- The Clark County School District is failing its students who don't speak English. That's the bottom line from an expert who looked at how the district is teaching these students.

Clark County English Language Learning classes received a bad grade from an expert who looked at how it’s teaching its student.

West Ed, a California Research Agency that promotes the improvement of learning conducted the study at the request of former Superintendent Dwight Jones. The findings confirm what parents were venting about Wednesday at a Town Hall Meeting at Latin Chamber Foundation building.

Isabel Soto was one of dozens of parents who shared stories of frustration their children faced during English Language Learning classrooms.

Soto says one incident came to her attention when she asked her son about any problems during a meeting with the teacher.

“…and he said, ’Oh the teacher when I raise my hand she never picks on me’ and then she suddenly turns and she says "Benjamin you speak English!’” Soto said.

The study also found ELL classes were not meeting expectations in 69 of 70 observed in the Clark County School District. UNLV Law Professor Sylvia Lazos says this is catastrophic.

“What we're talking about is a generation of children that they're almost all ELL in this neighborhood that are not given the proper supports to be able to read and to progress, and not be able to graduate and have the kind of skills we need in a 20th century society,” Lazos said.

Some of the problems observed included, low expectations and perceptions of the students, a lack of direction and no sense of urgency to develop English in an accelerated manner.

Priscilla Rocha who teaches ELL to adults has been seeing this for years.

“Some of the teachers were not prepared to deal with second language learners coming into the districts,” Rocha said.

The study suggests teachers need to retool themselves to teach differently, and that the district will need to develop teachers’ expertise to better handle non-English speakers, and provide support.

Lazos says parents will need to get more informed and involved, and so should the future superintendent.

Nevada ranks third in the nation in its growth of English language learners.

The ACLU of Nevada is exploring the option of a lawsuit against the state, and whether or not it provides enough money for education, and whether that funding is equitable for all students.

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