Indiana Schools Face Big Growth in Non-English Speakers

January 7, 2009

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Indiana is one of 13 states where the number of public school students who don't speak English proficiently has more than tripled in the past decade. That's according to a national report out today that examines how well states are educating English language learners.

The report highlights what schools are facing:

SWANSON: Most of the growth has occurred in suburbs and small towns, and in mid-size districts. School systems are in the position of educating an ELL population that they never had before. It was really not on the radar screen.

Christopher Swanson is one of the study's authors, and director of a research center affiliated with the journal Education Week.

The report documents giant gaps in reading and math achievement between students just learning English and classmates who already know the language.

Together, Illinois and Indiana will need to hire an estimated several thousand additional language teachers over the next five years, and neither state has incentives to do so.

The increase in English Lanugage learners reflects a change in immigration patterns, but the report also finds that two-thirds of students learning English were born in the United States.