Legislation to Bridge Long Term English Learner Achievement Gaps is Headed to Governor’s Desk

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill (AB) 1868, by Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley), passed the Legislature with bipartisan support. AB 1868 requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to collect and disaggregate data on English learners in order for the state to intervene and tailor programs to their individual needs before they are classified as a Long Term English Learner.

English learners are students in elementary grade levels who are working their way towards English proficiency; whereas Long Term English Learners (Long Term Learners) are students who have attended public school in the United States for six or more years, between grade levels sixth through twelfth, and categorized as having limited academic and English proficiency progress.

In 2010, Californians Together released a report stating that by the time English learner students reach secondary school, 59% are considered Long Term Learners. Without intervention from state and local education agencies (LEAs), English learners are at risk of becoming Long Term Learners. To complicate the issue even further, school districts do not have a single consistent term for defining an English learner. In 2021, Californians Together issued yet another report continuing to urge California to support Long Term Learners. Because these students are not English proficient, they are falling behind academically, making it complicated for them to succeed as they enter the workforce.

“We are leaving English Learners behind at a time when the state has already acknowledged that it needs 40% of new bachelor degrees to ensure the state’s economy can continue to grow. This is not only good policy and common sense, but is good for the future of our state,” said Assemblywoman Luz Rivas. “AB 1868 is the first step in identifying key issues affecting English learners in our California’s school system. By collecting this data, we can identify policy solutions preventing students from becoming Long Term Learners.”

As the California English Learner (EL) population, now close to 1.15 million students, goes through our public school system, many students succeed, and in dual language immersion even outperform students in monolingual programs. Nevertheless, nearly 200,000 of our EL students spend five or more years in our schools and still do not meet the linguistic or academic standards required to be reclassified as fully English proficient,” stated Jan Gustafson-Corea, Executive Director of California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE). “Since 2013, these students have been formally identified by the State of California as Long Term English Learners (LTELs). Current State reports do not disaggregate the EL data that would provide the information educators need to inform instruction and evaluate programs. This bill, AB 1868, will disaggregate the data to ensure that LTEL programs meet student needs so they can succeed and thrive."

“The increased data transparency provided by AB 1868 will support LEAs in meeting the unique needs of two cohorts of English learners: LTELs and students at risk of becoming long term English learners. This legislation will ensure that state, county, and district leaders have valuable information about the achievement of the over 200,000 LTELs and over 130,000 students at risk of becoming LTELs. Moreover, with over one in three LTELs being dually identified as students with disabilities, the provision to disaggregate special education data by language acquisition status and type of disability will be critical to informing our continuous improvement system,” stated Martha Hernandez, Executive Director of Californians Together.

AB 1868 is co-sponsored by Californian’s Together and CABE. The bill is on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature.

Assemblywoman Luz Rivas proudly represents the 39th Assembly District, which includes the City of Los Angeles communities of Arleta, Lake View Terrace, Granada Hills, Mission Hills, North Hollywood, Pacoima, Sun Valley, Sunland-Tujunga, Sylmar, and the City of San Fernando.