Improving "English Learners" graduation rates

FRESNO, Calif.

Alex Padilla is not only a California state senator, he's a former English language learner who graduated from high school in the golden state. He's concerned California's English learner system isn't meeting the needs of it's students which translates into low graduation rates.

Padilla says if current trends persist, only a third of working-age adults in California will have a bachelor's degree by the year 2025, while 41 percent of jobs will require one. He believes California's economic future is dependent on its success to prepare students for career and college.

"It's one thing to know how to teach math, science, etc., but how to teach this student population is important."

On Tuesday, he heard from teachers, administrators and parents on how to improve student success. Among the reoccurring themes was flexibility of state and federal funding - giving school districts discretion in how to best use the money.

Richard Lopez, Planada Elementary Principal said, "It's important cuz we find ourselves trapped with budget cuts and possible triggers that could take effect soon. And the flexible funds will impact our students and growth of our schools."

Another idea was investing in teacher development.

Maria Maldonado, Fresno Unified Assistant Superintendent said, "We recognize that the teacher is the number one element that will predict the success of our student."

Last but not least was accountability and continued support once the student reaches English proficiency. Padilla hopes to put these ideas into action in the next legislative session.

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