Report Shows Significant Increase and Concentration of English Language Learners

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ALBANY, NY (12/20/2017) (readMedia)-- The New York State Association of School Business Officials (NYSASBO) has released a report showing English language learners in New York's public schools are growing in number and are highly concentrated in school districts that also have large numbers of economically disadvantaged students. Over the past 10 years, the number of English language learners has increased 33 percent. This has accelerated over the past two years as the number of ELLs grew 11 percent.

The report found that 100 school districts enroll 90 percent of ELLs, while a combined 297 school districts have less than one percent of ELLs. School districts with large numbers of English language learners have high incidence of economic need. In the 19 school districts where ELLs make up at least 20 percent of enrollment, 67 percent of students are eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch.

Other findings include:

• The three regions with the highest concentrations of ELLS are New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley. These regions combined enroll 88 percent of ELLs in the state.

• In three regions, ELLs make up one percent or less of enrollment: the Mohawk Valley, North Country, and Southern Tier.

• Across Need/Resource-Capacity categories, Big Five and Urban/Suburban-High Need School districts have the largest shares of ELLs and are also the NRCs with the highest levels of student economic need.

• The five most common languages for ELLs are Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Bengali, and Russian. In total, ELLs speak 215 different languages.

• The state is currently $4.2 billion short of fully funding its Foundation Aid formula, and districts with high levels of ELLs also have the greatest amount of Foundation Aid still due. Urban/Suburban High-Need districts, which have the greatest concentration of ELLs relative to their enrollment, would receive $4,212 more per pupil in Foundation Aid if it was fully funded.

To help school districts with high levels of ELLs provide the constitutionally mandated sound, basic education for all students,

NYSASBO recommends:

• $1.4 billion Foundation Aid phase-in to be funded for three years to fully realize the Foundation Aid formula

• $100 million English language learner temporary categorical aid to provide immediate benefit until the Foundation Aid formula is fully phased in

• Reevaluate the true cost of educating English language learners to update the Foundation Aid formula weightings

"The rapid growth of English language learners in school districts with significant economic need is an additional strain on scarce resources. The state needs to keep the promise it made when it created the Foundation Aid formula so that all students have access to a quality education," stated Michael J. Borges, NYSASBO Executive Director.