BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker has signed into law the legislation “An Act relative to language opportunity for our kids”, also known as the LOOK bill, promotes research-based best practices for programs serving English learners (EL). The bill would update the current statute on English language education in the state’s public schools.
According to a news release from State Representative Aaron Vega’s office, the number of EL students in Massachusetts has doubled to more than 90,204 students, or 9.5 percent of the student population since the year 2000. While statewide graduation rates for students have risen over the past ten years, the achievement gap between EL students and their peers continues.
Under the bill, school districts can maintain the current Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) or choose an alternative that meets federal and state standards.The legislation expands the role of parental advisory councils and allows parents the flexibility to choose programs that best meet their child’s needs.The bill also requires better tracking of student performance and reviews of school programming, and directs the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop additional guidelines and supports for districts.
Students who achieve high-levels of proficiency in English and one or more foreign languages would qualify for a new “seal of biliteracy” in participating districts that supporters of the bill described as recognition of the value of bilingualism in the modern economy.