SDUSD’s English-Learner Program Criticized by State

The San Diego Unified School District has some explaining to do when it comes to its much lauded English-learners program.

A report from the California Department of Education blasts the district’s handling of English-learner education, accusing its schools of providing inadequate and inconsistent instruction for students working to become proficient in English. The report further questions the criteria the district is using when declaring success and transitioning students out of the program.

A full copy of the report, obtained by Voice of San Diego, is available here. The review was conducted as part of routine monitoring by the state.

San Diego Unified’s English-learner program has undergone significant cuts over the years. The district also changed its approach to English learning, placing less emphasis on out-of-class instruction and having students learning more English in their regular classes with peers. The report suggests this new approach is not having its intended effect.

The school district has 45 days to respond to the state’s findings. In the meantime, officials have cited a 70.4% English-learner graduation rate compared to the state average of 67.9%.

“The findings outlined in the March report from the [Department of Education] deserve to be taken seriously. San Diego Unified believes in using data as a flashlight — not a hammer,” wrote district spokeswoman Maureen Magee in a statement.

Richard Barrera, SDUSD’s only Latino board member, also said he would seek answers from district staff.