California is home to the largest population of English Learners (ELs) in the United States. Across our state, 60% of children under age five (approximately 1.7M) and 19% of students in kindergarten to 12th grade (approximately 1.1M) are ELs. Nearly 42% of students in California’s public schools speak a language other than English at home. These children and youth represent the future of California.
Our education system needs to set the appropriate conditions for ELs to thrive. Yet, nearly half of ELs entering kindergarten have not developed English proficiency by middle school. ELs are more likely to be in classrooms led by educators early in their teaching careers who lack the training to meet their unique language development, academic, and social and emotional needs. And ELs are more likely to have limited access to rigorous, engaging, and grade-appropriate instruction that prepares them for success in college and career.
We believe that by putting ELs at the center of our education policies and practices, our systems can serve all students well. To get there, our systems must recognize and build on the assets ELs bring to the classroom.