HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2211        FILED ON: 1/15/2015

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 498

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

_________________

PRESENTED BY:

Jeffrey Sánchez

_________________

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
Court assembled:

The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act relative to language opportunity for our kids.

_______________

PETITION OF:

 

Name:

District/Address:

Jeffrey Sánchez

15th Suffolk

Linda Dorcena Forry

First Suffolk

Jason M. Lewis

Fifth Middlesex

Joseph W. McGonagle, Jr.

28th Middlesex

Colleen M. Garry

36th Middlesex

Timothy J. Toomey, Jr.

26th Middlesex

Marjorie C. Decker

25th Middlesex

Robert M. Koczera

11th Bristol

Ruth B. Balser

12th Middlesex

Thomas J. Calter

12th Plymouth

Kay Khan

11th Middlesex

John C. Velis

4th Hampden

Frank A. Moran

17th Essex

Michael D. Brady

Second Plymouth and Bristol

James B. Eldridge

Middlesex and Worcester

Tom Sannicandro

7th Middlesex

Michelle M. DuBois

10th Plymouth

Barbara A. L'Italien

Second Essex and Middlesex

Daniel M. Donahue

16th Worcester

Thomas M. Stanley

9th Middlesex

Sean Garballey

23rd Middlesex

Evandro C. Carvalho

5th Suffolk

Marcos A. Devers

16th Essex

Paul R. Heroux

2nd Bristol

James Arciero

2nd Middlesex

Christine P. Barber

34th Middlesex

Sonia Chang-Diaz

Second Suffolk

Jonathan Hecht

29th Middlesex

James R. Miceli

19th Middlesex

Peter V. Kocot

1st Hampshire

Antonio F. D. Cabral

13th Bristol

Claire D. Cronin

11th Plymouth

Jennifer E. Benson

37th Middlesex

Benjamin Swan

11th Hampden

Linda Dean Campbell

15th Essex

Chris Walsh

6th Middlesex

John J. Mahoney

13th Worcester

James J. O'Day

14th Worcester

Marc R. Pacheco

First Plymouth and Bristol

Mary S. Keefe

15th Worcester

Robert L. Hedlund

Plymouth and Norfolk

David M. Rogers

24th Middlesex

Jose F. Tosado

9th Hampden

Carlos Gonzalez

10th Hampden


HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2211        FILED ON: 1/15/2015

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 498

By Mr. Sánchez of Boston, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 498) of Jeffrey Sánchez and others for legislation to provide the highest quality education through access of innovative and research-based language education instructional programs.  Education.

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

 

_______________

In the One Hundred and Eighty-Ninth General Court
(2015-2016)

_______________

 

An Act relative to language opportunity for our kids.

 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
 

SECTION 1.  Chapter 71A of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking sections 1 through 8 and inserting in place thereof the following: -

Section 1. Findings and Declarations

              Whereas, all children are entitled to a high quality education that prepares them to participate and succeed in a global economy;

              Whereas, for Massachusetts to remain a national and global leader in educational achievement, it must recognize, value, and invest in programs that help students acquire 21st century skills, including multilingualism, both through English language acquisition and dual language learning; and

              Whereas, bilingualism, biliteracy, and multicultural understanding are skills essential to improving career and college readiness, and enhancing social and economic growth within a global economy;

              Whereas, the current “one-size-fits-all” model for English language learners will continue to disadvantage students who are increasingly coming from diverse linguistic and cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds; and that the existing laws and practices are failing Massachusetts students, constraining teachers and school districts;

          Whereas, providing parents with the opportunity to select the best education for their children, including language instruction educational programs, will enhance parental engagement in education

              Whereas, celebration of linguistic and cultural diversity and understanding how the strength of values, practices, and linguistic and cultural capital are resources to our communities.

              Therefore, it is resolved that: all children in Massachusetts public schools shall be provided with the highest quality education through access of innovative and research-based language education instructional programs that provide effective academic English language and/or dual language proficiency and high academic achievement as effectively as possible.

Section 2. Definitions

In this chapter;

(a)“Language acquisition program” or Language Instruction Educational Program refers to an instructional program that includes English language acquisition for English learners as a component.  Language acquisition programs are not limited to any single program design or pedagogical style.

(b)“English learner” (also called an “English language learner”) means a child who does not speak English or whose native language is not English, and who is not currently able to perform ordinary classroom work in English.

(c)“Sheltered English immersion”  a program composed of two instructional components: sheltered content instruction that focuses on teaching academic content using English as the primary language of instruction and English language development instruction that focuses on explicit and systematic English language instruction.

(d)“English Language Development” (ELD) or “English as a second language” (ESL), a specially designed course of study that focuses on the acquisition of the English language and is designed according to a student's English proficiency, performance and developmental level. It is a component of all comprehensive language acquisition programs, and explicit, systematic, developmental, proficiency-driven English language and literacy are the primary content.

(e)"Dual language education", (also called two-way bilingual) any program that integrates language learning and academic instruction for native speakers of English and native speakers of another language, with the goals of high academic achievement, first and second academic language proficiency, and cross-cultural understanding.

(f)“Transitional bilingual education," an English learner program that follows a bilingual approach to learning in which the native language of the ELL is used to support and scaffold the student’s development of English and then gradually phase instruction in the native language out while delivering content instruction.

(g)“Foreign language” means a language other than English, and includes American Sign Language.

Section 3. Census

Local school districts shall annually ascertain, not earlier than the first day of April, under regulations prescribed by the Department of Education, the number of English learners within their school system in grades pre-Kindergarten through twelve, and shall classify them according to grade level, the language of which they possess a primary speaking ability, and the English learner program type in which they are enrolled, with all such information being made publicly available by school and school district on a website. Districts shall also monitor students who have exited English learner programs when assessing the academic achievement of English learners and the effectiveness of language acquisition programs.

Section 4. English Language Education

English learners enrolled in a Massachusetts public school district or charter school shall be educated through a comprehensive, research-based instructional program that includes a content component to ensure appropriate acquisition of subject matter content and a language acquisition component to ensure appropriate acquisition of the English language. The programs for English learners may include sheltered English Immersion, dual language education or transitional bilingual education but shall not be limited to any specific program or instructional design provided that any such programs shall include the acquisition of the English language. The department shall promulgate regulations to allow districts to choose one or more programs that meet the requirements of this section based on best practices in the field, the linguistic and educational needs, and the demographic characteristics of their students. Districts may incorporate opportunities for students to develop and maintain native language proficiency as part of a formal or extracurricular academic program. 

The department shall also promulgate regulations to ensure that English language learners receive English language development instruction at a level and frequency that is appropriate for their level of English language proficiency and educational needs and instructed by teacher holding an English as a second language license. Each school district shall employ at least one teacher licensed in English as a Second Language.

Any student who has exited an English learner program and attained English proficiency as determined by the Department regulations and guidelines shall have access to tutoring, English language development instruction or other instructional modifications as necessary in order to perform ordinary grade level classwork.

Local schools shall be permitted but not required to place in the same classroom English learners of different ages but whose degree of English proficiency is similar. Local schools shall be encouraged to mix together in the same classroom English learners from different native-language groups but with the same degree of English fluency. Once English learners acquire a good working knowledge of English and are able to do regular school work in English, they shall no longer be classified as English learners.

Foreign language programs and special education programs for physically or mentally impaired students shall be unaffected.

Section 5. Parental Choice

Parents or legal guardians of students who are deemed eligible to enroll in an English language learner program shall have the right to select any available English language learner program offered within the district.

Parents or legal guardians may refuse enrolling a child or remove their child from any English language learner program provided that written confirmation of any such request is retained in the student’s cumulative folder. The student shall continue to be designated as limited English proficient and retain the right to return to an English language learner program at any time.

A school district may allow a nonresident English language learner to enroll in or attend its English language learner programs. The tuition for such student, which shall be established by the department, shall be paid by the school district in which the student resides. Any school district may join with any other school district or districts to provide English language learner programs required or permitted by this chapter.

The parents or legal guardians of 20 pupils or more in any grade may request a specific program within a single district or charter school that is designed to provide language instruction. Within 90 days the school district must respond and either provide the plan for implementation or provide written informed reason for denial.

Any district operating a language acquisition program for English learners shall establish an English learner parent advisory council. The parent advisory council shall be comprised of parents or legal guardians of students who are enrolled in language acquisition programs within the district.  Membership shall be restricted to parents or legal guardians of students enrolled in English learner programs, dual language programs or other language acquisition programs within the district. The duties of the parent advisory council shall include, but not be limited to, advising the school on matters that pertain to the education of students in language acquisition programs, meeting regularly with school officials to participate in the planning and development or programs designed to improve educational opportunities for English learners, and to participate in the review of school improvement plans established under section 59C of chapter 71 as they pertain to English learners. Any parent advisory council may, at its request, meet at least once annually with the school council. The parent advisory council shall establish by-laws regarding officers and operational procedures. In the course of its duties under this section, the parent advisory council shall receive assistance from the director of language acquisition programs for the district or other appropriate school personnel as designated by the superintendent.

Section 6. Legal Standing and Parental Enforcement

The Department shall issue regulations regarding additional communication to parents of English learners in compliance with all state and federal requirements. Any such communication shall annually inform such parents or legal guardians of their rights to choose any language acquisition program among those that are offered at the school district, to request a new language acquisition program under Section 4, or to withdraw their child from a particular language acquisition program. Furthermore, should the school district issue a recommendation to place an English learner in an language acquisition program, the parents or legal guardian of such student shall have the right, either at the time of the original notification, or at any point thereafter, to withdraw the student from such program by sending written notice of such decision by mail to the school authorities of the school district in which the student is enrolled.

Section 7. Monitoring Language Acquisition Programs

A nationally-normed test of English proficiency shall similarly be administered at least once each year to all Massachusetts schoolchildren in grades Kindergarten and higher who are English learners. English learners classified as severely learning disabled may be exempted from these tests. The particular tests to be used shall be selected by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and it is intended that the tests shall usually remain the same from year to year. The national percentile scores of students shall be confidentially provided to individual parents, and the aggregated percentile scores and distributional data for individual schools and school districts shall be made publicly available on an internet web site; the scores for students classified as English learners shall be separately sub- aggregated and made publicly available there as well, with further sub- aggregation based on the English learner program type in which they are enrolled.

The results of any such assessments shall be used as evidence of efficacy of programs. The results of any single annual assessment of English proficiency under this section are considered inappropriate for use in the evaluations of districts, schools or individual teachers.

The district shall send report cards and progress reports including, but not limited to, progress in becoming proficient in using the English language and other school communications to the parents or legal guardians of students in the English learners programs in the same manner and frequency as report cards and progress reports to other students enrolled in the district. The reports shall, to the maximum extent possible, be written in a language understandable to the parents and legal guardians of such students.

Section 7A. Evaluation of Programs

The department shall conduct on-site visits to school districts at least once every 5 years for the purposes of evaluating the effectiveness of programs serving English learners and to validate evidence of educational outcomes. The evaluation shall include, but not be limited to, a review of individual student records of all English learners, a review of the programs and services provided to English learners and a review of the dropout rate of English learners formerly enrolled in the district within the prior 3 years. The ELL/Bilingual Advisory Council established under MGL Ch 15, Section 1G shall annually review the policies and procedures of on-site visits to schools districts.

Section 8. Community-based English Tutoring

In furtherance of its constitutional and legal obligation to provide all children with an adequate education, the state shall encourage family members and others to provide personal English language tutoring to such children as are English learners, and support these efforts by raising the general level of English language knowledge in the community. Subject to appropriation by the General Court, commencing with the fiscal year in which this initiative is enacted and for each of the nine fiscal years following thereafter, a sum of five million dollars ($5,000,000) per year shall be spent for the purpose of providing funding for free or subsidized programs of adult English language instruction to parents or other members of the community who pledge to provide personal English language tutoring to Massachusetts school children who are English learners. Programs funded pursuant to this section shall be provided through schools or community organizations. Funding for these programs shall be administered by the Department of Education, and shall be disbursed at the discretion of the local school committees in each district, under reasonable guidelines established by, and subject to the review of, the Board of Education.

SECTION 2.  Chapter 71A of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by adding the following new sections:-

Section 9. Educator Certification and Endorsement

All teachers and administrators assigned to language acquisition programs shall hold the appropriate educator licensure and endorsements for the program type.

The Department shall promulgate regulations creating a pathway to for endorsement of educators who have completed coursework and field-based experiences in providing instruction within dual-language programs.

The Department shall promulgate regulations creating a Language Acquisition Program administrator licensure pathway. Educators qualifying for such licensure shall have demonstrated experience working in language acquisition programs, experience engaging parents and guardians from diverse backgrounds, graduate level coursework in education administration and field-based experiences in meeting local, state and federal requirements for language acquisition programs.

Section 10.  Language Acquisition Program Administrator

(a) A school district with 200 students who are designated as English learners shall appoint a person to be its administrator of language acquisition programs. Such administrator shall devote full time to the duties involved in supervising the provision of all language acquisition programs in the school system.

(b) A school committee with fewer than 200 students designated as English learners shall appoint a person to be its administrator of language acquisition programs. Such administrator shall have the duties involved in supervising the provision of all language acquisition programs in the school system for not less than 25 percent of the duties assigned to such a positions.

(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b), the school committee of any city, town, or school district may, to meet its obligations under this section, with the approval of the department, enter into an agreement with any other school committee to jointly appoint an administrator of English language learners.

Section 11.  State Seal of Biliteracy

(a)Chapter 69 of the General Laws as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition is hereby amended by adding after Section 1O a new section:

Section 1P. The board shall establish the State Seal of Biliteracy to recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, writing and listening in one or more languages in addition to English.

The purposes of the State Seal of Biliteracy are as follows: (1) To encourage students to study languages; (2) To certify attainment of biliteracy; (3) To provide employers with a method of identifying people with language and biliteracy skills; (4) To provide universities with a method to recognize and give academic credit to applicants seeking admission; (5) To prepare pupils with 21st century skills; (6) To recognize and promote foreign language instruction and native and heritage language instruction in public schools; (7) To strengthen intergroup relationships, affirm the value in diversity, and honor the multiple cultures and languages of the Commonwealth.

The Secretary of Education shall be responsible for administering the State Seal of Biliteracy program including preparing and delivering to participating school districts an appropriate insignia to be affixed to the diploma or transcript of the student indicating that the student has been awarded a State Seal of Biliteracy. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, in consultation with the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association, and in alignment with national trends for existing state Seals in the nation, shall promulgate regulations governing criteria for the awarding of the State Seal of Biliteracy.

A school district that participates in the program under this section shall: maintain appropriate records in order to identify pupils who have earned a State Seal of Biliteracy and affix the appropriate insignia to the diploma or transcript of each pupil who earns a State Seal of Biliteracy. State Seals of Biliteracy shall also be available electronically.