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Estudiantes en Colorado experimentan mayores retrasos académicos durante la pandemia de COVID-19. ¿Cuál es la respuesta de las escuelas?
Read in English.
According to experts and advocates in the field of education, students who are learning English may have faced greater obstacles during the pandemic and need additional support.
The results of state tests in 2023 show that English learners are falling further behind compared to other groups of students than their peers in 2019, and they are struggling more to get back on track. They had the largest reduction in their skills in the statewide assessments of English language arts and mathematics and also showed less growth than their peers in 2019.
The test results are not the only cause for concern. 40 percent of English learners missed so much school last year that they were identified as chronically absent, compared to only a third of other Colorado students.
Two notable methods have been established to support English learners with their academic performance in the aftermath of COVID.
A handful of school districts saw their English learners make above-average progress or demonstrate greater growth than the rest of the students. Leaders in those districts said they prioritized co-teaching instead of pulling students out of general education classes for specific English language development instruction. At least one district used federal COVID funds to provide tutoring services to those students.
But some other districts say they have not allocated specific resources or strategies to help English learners. In fact, regardless of recent data and what state analysts say about the issue, they deny that the pandemic has disproportionately affected these students. They say the demographic composition of English learners has changed and now includes more newly arrived students to the country.
“There are districts that don’t seem to be very concerned about emergent bilingual students,” said Cynthia Trinidad-Sheahan, president of the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education.
State representatives in the field of education say they cannot give districts more money to help with English learners unless lawmakers authorize more spending or new programs. “That will have to be answered by the General Assembly,” said Floyd Cobb, commissioner of the Colorado Education Association, when asked how the agency expects to bridge the gap between English learners and students[AC1] who speak English as their first language.
The majority of test score data shows a negative trend
When schools implemented virtual learning at the beginning of the pandemic, some schools struggled to provide support with English language development. Students did not have an environment to practice their new language, and in their homes, many families could not support them with virtual learning. And when schools returned to in-person learning, some families of English learners were more hesitant than others to send their children back to the classroom immediately.
Inequality in test scores between English learners and English speakers is not new. One reason is that the vast majority of English learners take tests in English before fully understanding the language.