Legislation to help English Learning Students Passes First Committee

Legislation to help English Learning Students Passes First Committee

Legislation focuses on equipping teachers for English Language Learning students

SANTA FE, NM – House Bill 373, “New Mexico ELL Teacher Preparation Act,introduced by Rep. Javier Martinez (D-Albuquerque) and Tomas Salazar (D-Las Vegas) passed its first committee hearing Wednesday, February 18 in the House Education Committee. A similar bill sponsored by Senator Bill Soules of Las Cruces has been introduced to the New Mexico Senate. 

The NM ELL (English language learner) Teacher Preparation Act would allocate $750,000 to increase the number of education degree earners completing endorsements in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or bilingual education, as well as providing additional training to teachers already in the field.

Currently 47% of elementary teachers and 79% of secondary teachers in New Mexico have English language learners in their classrooms but do not possess a bilingual or TESOL endorsement. That equals just fewer than 8,000 teachers who lack the formal training and endorsement to teach students learning in a second language.

Recent census results show that 36% of New Mexico households report utilizing a language other than English. Nearly one in five public school students are currently classified as English language learners, and they suffer from a 30 point achievement gap in Reading and 23 point gap in Mathematics as compared to other students in the state.

“Although New Mexico has maintained very progressive policies when it comes to the education of bilingual students, English-language learners continue to be an underserved population in our public schools,” said Rep. Javier Martinez. “We can improve the educational outcomes of these students by equipping our teachers to better meet their needs and increase their educational opportunity.”