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ArlingtonData: ESL students needing more time to learn English

Data: ESL students needing more time to learn English

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Blame COVID-related learning lockdowns or other factors, but it is taking Arlington Public Schools students who are not native speakers of English slightly longer to achieve proficiency in the language, according to a report slated to be presented to School Board members on March 10.

Getting to English proficiency takes, on average, 3.83 years, according to an update on the school system’s services for immigrant students.

That’s up from 3.61 years on average in the previous report, although in general the rate has remained in a relatively narrow window since the 2016-17 school year, when it stood at 3.97 years.

The report from the school system’s Office of English Language Learners is expected to give School Board members an updated window on how the COVID crisis impacted the roughly 9,300 Arlington Public Schools students who have a native language other than English. (That’s approximately 35 percent of the entire student body.)


Approximately 7,000 of those 9,300 students are in the school system’s English-language-learners program. The program has a staff of nearly 200 teachers and about 75 support personnel, in terms of full-time-equivalent (FTE) positions.

Arlington school officials long have professed their commitment to provide services for English-language learners, but in signing a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice during the Trump era, school leaders essentially acknowledged major flaws and agreed to federal monitoring of improvement efforts.

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