“I want my kids to graduate from college,” -Luz Hernandez, parent

“I don’t think that I got a fair education,” -Jessica Verdugo, former ELL student

“If you take a test and you can’t read it, you can’t pass it,” -Art Velarde, principal

“I think the [English] program that they’re doing is great. They do it every Monday. It would help us much more if they had the program three days per week.” -Miriam Reyes, parent

Overcoming the Language Barrier in Arizona Schools

By Courtney Columbus | Dec. 8, 2015

Needing to learn English as a foreign language adds an extra obstacle to a child's education.

Arizona students with limited English proficiency tend to score lower than their peers on Arizona's Instrument to Measurement Standards (AIMS) tests in elementary school, according to the Arizona Department of Education. Their four-year high school graduation rates are also much lower than the statewide average.

The difficulties faced by English Language Learner (ELL) students inspired local teachers and parents to look for creative ways to improve these students' chances of success. High-need schools can apply for grants to fund English classes for parents. However, these grants are competitive. They are only available to schools where at least 40 percent of students are on the free or reduced lunch program, according to the Arizona Department of Education.

Parents say English classes make it easier for them to communicate with their students' teachers. School administrators and teachers hope that these classes will improve parents' ability to help their kids with their homework.

Student Reading a Book

Photo by Courtney Columbus

Copy Editor | Courtney Columbus

Media Editor | Ao Gao

Graphic Editor | Keshia Butts

Web Editor | Adam DeRose

A collection of stories created by the 2015-2016 graduate students

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

555 N. Central Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85004

Copyright © 2015