Closing the Achievement Gap With Minorities

For English language learners (ELLs), the achievement gap can be a significant concern, and progress toward closing it is slow. The achievement gap refers to the difference in academic performance between ELLs and their native English-speaking peers. ELLs typically lag behind their peers in reading, writing, math, and science, which affects their chances of success and their ability to access higher education.

To close the achievement gap, educators must rethink how they teach ELLs. For starters, they need to recognize that language barriers are only part of the problem. Many ELLs come from lower socio-economic backgrounds, which compounds the challenges they face academically. Educators need to consider the whole student, looking at factors like access to healthcare, nutrition, and transportation. These external factors significantly impact a student’s ability to learn and should not be overlooked.

One of the essential strategies for closing the achievement gap is providing ELLs with high-quality, targeted instruction designed to meet their individual needs. ELLs require explicit instruction when learning English, which means teachers must focus on developing their vocabulary, syntax, and grammar. Teachers must also incorporate culturally responsive teaching practices that validate the cultural and linguistic diversity of their ELL students.

Another effective way to close the achievement gap is to increase parent and community engagement. Parents of ELLs may not be familiar with the US education system, which can cause them to feel isolated and powerless to help their children. Schools can engage parents by offering workshops on how the education system works in the US and how they can support their child’s academic progress. Community partnerships can also help by providing ELLs with extra tutoring, mentorship programs, and workshops designed to help them develop strong study habits.

Finally, schools can promote the success of ELLs by providing them with equitable access to resources and opportunities. ELLs should have the same access to advanced courses, extracurricular activities, and technology as their native English-speaking peers. Providing equal opportunities not only makes ELLs feel valued, but also offers them the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge that can help close the achievement gap.

In conclusion, closing the achievement gap for ELLs requires a multifaceted approach that takes into account the whole student. Providing ELLs with explicit language instruction, culturally responsive teaching practices, and equitable access to resources can make all the difference. Teachers, parents, and community members must work together to empower ELLs and give them the tools they need to succeed academically and in life. 

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