Summary of AFT Forum on English Language Learners and the Common Core Standards


AFT HOSTS FORUM ON ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS AND THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS
Prepared by:
Trevor Sparks (tsparks@wpllc.net)

October 29, 2010

On Thursday, October 21, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) hosted a policy forum titled, “Making the Common Core Standards Work for English Language Learners: The Importance of Linking English Language Proficiency Standards to the Common Core Standards,” to examine the role of English language proficiency in the Common Core Standards. The Common Core Standards have been developed to define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school college- and career-ready. Currently, 36 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to adopt them.

SPEAKERS
• Antonia Cortese (Moderator), Secretary-Treasurer, AFT
• Diane August, Senior Research Scientist, Center for Applied Linguistics
• Kathleen Leos, President and Founder, The Global Institute for Language and Literacy Development
• Susan Lafond, ESL and Foreign Language Teach Specialist, New York State United Teachers

SUMMARY
Antonia Cortese introduced each of the panelists and briefly explained the Common Core Standards. Cortese voiced concern, however, for English language learners (ELLs) and how “their needs should be taken into consideration as the Common Core Standards are implemented.” English language learners now constitute more than 10 percent (roughly six million students) of PreK – 12 students.

Kathleen Leos
Policy expert Kathleen Leos began the discussion by providing both broad and operational definitions for English language proficiency (ELP) in order to offer an understanding behind ELP standards. “Language proficiency,” she explained, “is the demonstrated ability of a student to speak, understand, comprehend, read and write in the

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