The recommendation for further study was made for the following reasons:
1. As a result of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) agreed to ensure that all teachers in the state receive appropriate training in sheltered English immersion. The state has invested close to $5,000,000 to date to train the first cohort of teachers to receive SEI endorsement through RETELL, and we have begun to see improved performance in English language learners (ELLs). For example, under state receivership, the Lawrence Public Schools have chosen to exclusively implement sheltered English immersion, and have seen improvements in their ELLs’ MCAS scores in English language arts, mathematics and science;
2. Level 4 and 5 schools have had the option since 2010, to implement alternative English language learner programs, such as dual language and transitional bilingual education. However, the overwhelming majority of those schools have chosen to continue to use sheltered English immersion for their ELLs who are showing signs of improvement while a Level 4 school that introduced a dual language program has had very poor results. In fact, the state has decided to eliminate that program for a number of reasons, one of which includes clear deficiencies in student performance and achievement;
3. School districts across the Commonwealth are in the process of implementing many new programs and practices, e.g. the Common Core Curriculum standards, new teacher and administrator supervision and evaluation requirements and the PARCC assessments. Consequently, many districts are struggling to meet these new responsibilities, and any additional changes would not be well received.
The bottom line was that the committee, with input from stakeholders, believe that "improved efforts are underway that will ensure all teachers receive appropriate training, that the state has invested millions on that training, that we are seeing improved performance in the students served by SEI programs, and that districts are in the process of implementing many new initiatives, this is not the right time to enact such legislation. Moreover, the fact that our lowest performing schools already have the flexibility to use programs other than SEI for their ELLs, but the vast majority has chosen not to do so, suggests that there is little demand for change."
It's sad, but clearly the political will in the state is limited at best. The push needs to shift away from changing the law, to promoting bilingual programs currently allowed within the law, specifically dual-language immersion programs.