Cultural Diversity In San Antonio Schools
For many of the English language learners in Bexar County, Texas, English represents their second language. Aitken provides valuable insights into the struggle faced by many of the ELLs in the United States by exploring the circumstances that brought them to the country to begin with. Ultimately, many of the ELLs in Bexar County had little choice but to immigrate to the U. S. as a result of civil disturbances, wars, famine, failed economies, oppressive governments, or percecution. As a result of this disorienting upheaval, many of these ELL’s have been forced to endure separations from their immediate family, while living in rampant poverty and possessing little to no formal education prior to arriving in the U.S. The circumstances that are faced by many of these ELL helps to illustrate the difficult road they face as they seek English language proficiency. In the end, a majority of these students are starting out well behind their peers, which has made the task of facilitating ELL educational programs and processes increadibly arduous and complex.
The level of English language proficiency that is demonstrated among English langage learners in the United States has been described by some, such as Aitken as several years behind the proficiency level of their peers. This proficiency gap between ELLs and U.S. born students has served as the driving topic of a host of research in recent years, and as such, the body of knowledge has evolved significantly over this time. Most recent studies have provided evidence to present more precise findings regarding the proficiency gap between foreign-born and U. S. born ELLs. For example, Slama, conducts an in-depth examination of the level of academic English proficiency demonstrated by high school students. The study spanned nine years and evaluated English proficiency scores of students as they progressed through high school. According to the findings, foreign born ELLs were found to not demonstrate proficiency in English language until the 11th grade, which is considerably below their peers. Interestingly, these foreign born students were found to catch up with their U. S. born ELLs by the end of high school, which suggests that although a disparity exists, it may not be continuous as improvements in English language proficiency are expected to be significant during high school level education.
Certainly the literature discussed in this section raises more questions than it answers as the complexities of limited English language proficiency are quite extensive in the United States and in Bexar County, Texas. What is clear, however, is that limited English language literacy is an issue that continues to plague students, many of whom are not native of the United States and lack any formal education in the past. The population of Bexar County is home to a significant amount of individuals that are characterized as such, which helps to explain why Bexar County has been chosen as the sample location for this study. Further, the racial/ethnic and socioeconomic makeup of the Bexar County is such that it offers a near perfect sample population in which to explore the relationship that exists between these relevant factors and English language literacy. Of course the last part of the study concept to be discussed involves the manner in which the examination will be conducted. In particular, this study will utilize test scores from the Texas Success Initiative (TSI). This test and its defining characteristics will be detailed in the following section.