“Every good story has a conflict,” says the teacher as she draws a story plot map for her students. Arleth and Saul, both 14 and freshmen at Richmond High, follow along, drawing the jagged map onto their notebooks, labeling the exposition, rising action and climax. The lesson has Arleth, Saul and 25 of their English Language Development (ELD) Level 4 classmates learning, and in some cases, re-learning the basics of writing.
ELD students, also known as English Language Learners, are the fastest growing group of students in American public schools. A 2008 study from the Migration Policy Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank, estimated 5.3 million K-12 students in the United States are English Learners, with 1.6 million in California alone.
ELD students consistently rank among the lowest in state test scores, high school graduation and college attendance rates. What’s more, the demographics of this population are changing dramatically.
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