Educators in Mississippi are learning new ways to teach students who come to school speaking little-to-no English. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports on a newly published guidebook to help teachers meet the needs of migrant children.
More than 12,000 students in Mississippi identify as what officials call English learners. The number has grown by almost 50 percent since 2013, according to the state department of education.
Debbie Blackledge is an EL coordinator for the Jones County School District. She says instructional strategies aimed at helping English learners are important.
"Not only will it help them in their future, it will help our whole schools all the way around. It will increase our test scores. But what's going to have to happen is that we're going to have to believe that they are not a detriment to our school system. They are assets if we can invest," said Blackledge.
Gwen King is an English learner coordinator with the Mississippi Department of Education. She says the last set of guidelines was published in 2011 and the new guidebook goes a step further. It includes strategies for EL teachers, general teachers, and on-campus administrators.
"Teachers and school districts and administrators are really finding there's a need to better understand English learners and how they not only learn English but academic content as well," said King.
King is co-author of the guidebook. She says it comes on the heels of the department's requirement that English learners be fluent by the 5th grade.
English learner progress will be part of official grades for Mississippi schools and districts starting this Fall.
Ashley Norwood, MPB News.