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How limited English students move to English-only classes questioned

by Sharita Forrest / Sep 15, 2011

Joseph P. RobinsonCHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Policymakers may want to rethink how they determine when children with limited English skills are fluent enough to learn in English-only classrooms, says a new study by an education professor at the University of Illinois.

The more than 5 million children in America’s schools who aren’t native speakers of English are the fastest growing segment of the school-age population, and, according to some projections, may compose more than 40 percent of elementary and secondary students in the U.S. by 2030.  Determining when non-native speakers have enough English mastery to learn in mainstream classrooms – a transition termed reclassification – is crucial to ensuring students’ academic success as well as schools’ abilities to achieve the learning benchmarks mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act.

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