English language learning programs (“ELL”) have significantly increased in recent years on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, located south of Cape Cod off the coast of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, according to a report in the Vineyard Gazette.
The Gazette report noted that in 2012 just 73 Martha’s Vineyard public school students needed support to learn English. Today the number stands at 327, which is more than 15% of the entire island student body, and also 5% higher than the state average in Massachusetts.
Students who speak a language other than English at home are screened at school and then are rated on the state-approved English proficiency scale from a 1 to a 5. Level 1 and Level 2 students are the least proficient, and they are required to have two 45-minute sessions of ELL support every day.
Leah Palmer, the director of ELL programs on the island, said that students who begin ELL classes in kindergarten typically graduate from the program proficient in English by the 4th grade.
Most ELL students on Martha’s Vineyard speak Brazilian Portuguese as their native language.
Dr. Matthew D’Andrea, schools superintendent on Martha’s Vineyard, observed: “I want our schools to be able to provide [the ELL students] with the education necessary to learn a language, but also to be academically proficient.”
ProEnglish long has advocated for English language immersion as far superior to bilingual education for students for whom English is not the native language, in order not to relegate such students to a linguistic ghetto in which they are destined for a poorer-quality educational experience and lower-paying job opportunities upon graduation.