January 25, 2002

State Board of Education Takes Historic Action to Integrate Instruction For California's 1.2 Million K-8 English Learners

Sacramento — For the first time in California history, the State Board of Education has adopted regular classroom textbooks that include strategies to meet the instructional needs of the more than 1 million English learners in California's K-8 public schools.

In a 7-2 vote, the State board adopted several K-8 textbook programs that include specially designed instructional strategies to ensure English learners have equal access to the state's rigorous English-Language Arts academic content standards, which lay out what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.

With this action by the State Board, California becomes the first state in the nation to require all K-8 basic instructional programs to include materials that can be used by the regular classroom teacher to teach grade-level content standards to English learners while they attain English-language proficiency. In all, the number of English learners statewide in K-12 numbers 1.5 million, or 25 percent of the state's public school population. Of the 1.5 million, 1.2 million are enrolled in K-8 and will be the beneficiaries of today's action.

"In line with the leadership of my predecessor, Monica Loza-no, the State Board has put the instructional materials needs of English learners at the center of instruction, not as an afterthought."

The vote by the State Board caps a years-long process to provide K-8 reading and language arts instructional materials that are designed to ensure every student participates in the regular classroom and has access to the same basic curriculum, and that teachers are provided the support they need to ensure that all students succeed.

All publishers who submitted instructional materials for adoption were required to provide explicit programs for English learners, with the programs integrated into the basic materials and teacher editions. Furthermore, the State Board-adopted materials include specially designed programs to provide intervention instruction to English learners in grades 4-8 who are entering those grades below the intermediate level of English proficiency.

Up to now, teachers typically have used supplements for English learners, or English learners were pulled from instruction involving the regular curriculum. Now, regardless if there is one English learner in the classroom or 20, the State Board-approved basic K-8 programs will support English learners in the classroom.

School districts will now determine which of the State Board-approved programs to use. Many districts are expected to pilot the basic programs and an English learner intervention program for grades 4-8. It is expected that some districts will start to use the programs as early as February while others may wait until next fall.

It is also expected that some publishers will submit a Spanish-language version of their programs as an alternate format for State Board consideration later this year.

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