Letter to New York State Board of Regents
I have had the pleasure of serving on the National Advisory Group for the New York State Bilingual Common Core Initiative. The Common Core represents an unprecedented opportunity to fully address the educational needs of English language learners by focusing on the language demands of the new content standards and supporting the English language development of students. In addition, the new standards represent the additional opportunity to address what should be supported in the native language to attain the standards.
I applaud the draft Progressions for both the process as well as the product. The open, public process for development is precisely what is expected of a standards-setting process. The product moves English proficiency standards significantly forward in aligning these standards to the Common Core, particularly in English Language Arts. As such, the Progressions are not “junior” ELA standards but fully supportive of the language demands contained in the standards. Furthermore, the Progressions document draws upon a state-of-the-art tool provided by the Council of Chief State Schools Officers, known as the English Language Proficiency Development Standards that was developed to ensure the correspondence of state ELP standards with the Common Core. The Progressions do an excellent job of giving primacy to the instructional functions of language, and a well-contextualized approach to vocabulary and grammar, which in the past has excessively dominated English language proficiency standards.
I am also extremely impressed by the value placed on the “bilingual” portion of the Progressions. New York sets an important standard for the rest of the nation as the value of multilingualism is acknowledged and supported through the Progressions.
The only concern that I have about the Progressions thus far is that it has focused exclusively on English Language Arts, and does not yet pay attention to the language demands of other content areas, such as math and science. I am hopeful that this could be a next step in this important process.
Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this process and to comment on it.
Kenji Hakuta, Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education
"The Theoretical Foundations of the New York State Bilingual Common Core Initiative is a beautiful piece with fresh and important ideas about teaching ELs. It tracks exactly with our advice in the CCSSO ELPD Framework, i.e. that language learning means development of competency in the language specific to each academic discipline not just learning grammatical structures. Importantly the New Language Progressions is about giving ELs access to the Common Core right away. And I really like the approach of also creating Home Language Arts Progressions."
Student Achievement Partners
“These Bilingual Common Core Progressions have been developed with care drawing upon the knowledge and experience of experts in the areas of literacy and biliteracy throughout the country. The developers' goals are to help teachers meet the academic needs of the emergent bilingual population in New York schools. They reflect a commitment to excellence in education for all students.”
Yvonne S. Freeman, Ph.D.
Professor of Bilingual Education
College of Education
The University of Texas at Brownsville
“Briefly, congratulations. This is incredible work that will serve as a model for many others who are engaging in the process. I can see the careful attention given to the CCSSO Framework Document throughout the work. I particularly like the lists of necessary supports at various levels, and you should know that the progressions on writing are the very very best I have seen across the country. Thank you for including me in the process. Please communicate my most enthusiastic FELICIDADES to the team.”
Guadalupe Valdés, Ph.D.
Bonnie Katz Tenenbaum Professor of Education