Legislature Passes Expanded English Language Opportunities

State Rep. Frank Moran
State Rep. Frank Moran

Representative Frank A. Moran (D-Lawrence, Andover, Methuen) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature to pass bipartisan legislation that updates the existing statute relative to English language education in the Commonwealth’s public schools. An Act relative to language opportunity for our kids, also known as the LOOK bill, promotes research-based best practices for programs serving English learners (EL).

Since the year 2000, the number of EL students in Massachusetts has doubled to more than 90,204 students, or 9.5 percent of the student population. While statewide graduation rates for students have risen over the past ten years, the achievement gap between EL students and their peers persists.

“This bill works to rectify a situation that has seen our public schools fall short in educating these particular students. I want to thank my colleagues on this committee for their hard work to find a solution for these student,” said Representative Frank Moran.

This bill expands on the current mandate requiring schools to use Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) as the default English learner program model by giving schools the flexibility to establish programs based on the diverse needs of their students. Under this legislation, school districts can maintain current SEI programming or choose to implement an alternative instructional program that meets federal and state standards.

This bill supports parental choice and involvement by expanding the role of Parental Advisory Councils and allowing parents the flexibility to choose programs that best meet their child’s needs.

To better identify and assist English learners, this legislation requires greater tracking of academic performance and enhanced review of programs. Furthermore, this legislation directs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop additional guidelines and supports for school districts.

Recognizing bilingualism and biliteracy as valuable strengths for students in a 21st century world, this legislation establishes a state Seal of Biliteracy. The seal will be awarded by participating school districts to students who have attained a high level of proficiency in English, and one or more foreign languages.

This bill will now move to the Governor for his signature.