October 2021

What Families of English Learners Say Their Students Need: Five Policy and Practice Implications

Now in the third consecutive school year impacted by the pandemic, educators and policymakers are grappling with how to respond to the needs of students who are English learners and their families. In spring 2021, the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools joined LA Unified School District (LA Unified) staff in the Jefferson-South Central Community of Schools to survey families about their experiences with distance learning, communications with schools, reclassification, and course access during the pandemic. We share these findings in our newest brief entitled, "What Families of English Learners Say Their Students Need: Five Policy and Practice Implications.”

While all students in California have been impacted by the pandemic, we know from experience that the past year surfaced unique challenges and needs for English learners, and we believe it is vital to listen and respond with supports that are rooted in their lived experiences. Based on feedback and conversations with LA Unified staff, parents, and partners, we uplift five findings for districts and schools to consider as they make strategic investment decisions going forward.

  • Use asset-based approaches to listening and learning from families of English learners, including partnering with parents to understand the insights students bring to the classroom.

  • Invest in strengthening the existing systems at school sites that already provide support to parents in their home language.

  • Invest in providing virtual and in-person training in families’ home languages to support parents to access and understand technology used for learning.

  • Monitor course access for English learner students to ensure that they are on track to reclassify and on track for college eligibility.

  • Communicate and engage families in the processes of initial designation and reclassification to ensure both schools and families have the necessary information to support their students.

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