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Raising the Achievement of English Learners In Providence Public Schools

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October 1, 2019

Tonya Harris at 202-393-2427


National Urban School Coalition Releases Results of Comprehensive Review of English Language Learner Programs in the Providence Public Schools


WASHINGTON, October 1 -- The Council of the Great City Schools, the nation’s premier coalition of large urban public-school systems, today released a major report reviewing the English language learner (ELL) programs in the Providence (RI) Public Schools.

The nearly 200-page report is the result of the Providence Schools having reached out to the Council in the fall of 2018 to request an analysis of how the district could meet remedies laid out by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in ensuring ELLs are provided equal educational opportunities. The report follows a similar review that the Council conducted in 2012.

The report examines such areas as the district’s vision and goals for ELLs, the number and variety of languages spoken by Providence’s children, achievement levels and English-proficiency rates, graduation rates, identification, registration, and placement processes, ELL access to district curriculum and the quality of that curriculum, program design, teacher assignments, monitoring, parent engagement, professional development, ELLs in special education, data systems, and the like. Some 113 specific recommendations are outlined for how the district can improve education for the city’s ELLs and address the mandates that DOJ has outlined.

The Council report indicated that the district faces even greater challenges than it did in 2012 since the numbers of English learners have increased substantially over the last seven years.

“There is hardly anyone blameless for the conditions that the Council found. And external critics and pundits will be quick to offer simple solutions to the problems the report identifies,” said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council. “Others will exploit the recent reviews, including ours, to further erode confidence in public urban schools, but the evidence from across the country is clear that urban public-school districts can and do improve with the right strategies,” Casserly added. “The Council of the Great City Schools stands ready to help the district and the state of Rhode Island provide the kinds of educational opportunities to the city’s children that they deserve.”   

The report can be accessed on the Council’s web site at: