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  • Missed Potential: English Language Learners Under-Represented in New York City Career and Technical Education Programs

    This data brief analyzes city and state data showing that English Language Learners (ELLs) are under-represented in career and technical education (CTE) programs at New York City high schools. The report makes recommendations for steps the DOE can take to address barriers for ELLs.

    Jul 24, 2017

    Three students in a classroom working on a technical project. (Photo by Vanessa Loring from Pexels)
    Photo by Vanessa Loring from Pexels

    Entitled Missed Potential: English Language Learners Under-Represented in NYC Career and Technical Education Programs, the brief examines ELL enrollment at schools that offer CTE, as well as their participation and completion rates in the CTE programs at those schools.

    The paper finds that although ELLs made up around 10.8% of the city’s high school students in 2015-16, they comprised only about 5.3% of students who participated in CTE programs. This disparity appears to be driven both by low numbers of ELLs attending CTE schools and low CTE participation rates at the school level.

    “The low number of ELLs in the city’s CTE schools and programs is a problem that needs attention,” says Kim Sweet, AFC’s Executive Director. “High quality CTE programs provide an invaluable bridge to future learning and employment paths. Failing to address access issues for ELLs keeps them from pursuing these opportunities, potentially with long-term repercussions in terms of future employability and earning potential.”

    CTE has been shown to keep students engaged and on track to graduation, a benefit especially important for ELLs, who last year graduated from high school at a rate of about 27%. Encouragingly, the graduation rate for ELLs who completed most or all of a CTE program was about 57%–more than double the city-wide rate for ELLs.

    But even compared to the already low numbers of ELLs who attend CTE schools and participate in CTE, disproportionately few ELLs actually made it to the point of completion. Of the 23,000 students in the 2016 graduating class who completed at least two-thirds of a CTE course sequence, only 477, or 2.1%, were ELLs–even though about 8.3% of the total graduating class were ELLs.

    ELLs won't reap the benefits of CTE if they aren't getting into the programs or receiving support once they get there. School officials should prioritize this issue and identify ways to ensure that ELLs are, at minimum, equally represented among students who take advantage of the city's CTE offerings.”

    Sam Streed, Policy Analyst at AFC

    The paper offers a list of recommended steps the New York City Department of Education can take to begin to address barriers for ELLs, including resolving recruitment and enrollment issues, offering extra training for CTE instructors in serving ELLs, and providing classroom supports in CTE schools­ such as bilingual CTE classes and translation and interpretation services. AFC also recommends increasing data transparency regarding CTE outcomes for ELLs and other vulnerable students and forming an advisory group, made up of educators, parents, students, and professionals with expertise in ELLs and/or CTE, to further assess the problem and issue further guidance.

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