Effects of the Pandemic on High School English Learners and Ways to Help Them Recover
Sashi Rayasam, Director of K-12 English Learner Services, Durham (NC) Public Schools
Carlene Thomas, English as a Second Language (ESL) Program Coordinator, English Learner Support Division, Texas Education Agency
Mariko Yoshisato, Postdoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins University, School of Education—Center for Social Organization of Schools
Julie Sugarman, Senior Policy Analyst for PreK-12 Education, Migration Policy Institute
It is well established that the pandemic has upended the rhythms of school life, perhaps most acutely for high school English Learners (ELs) who are already racing to complete graduation requirements before aging out of the K-12 system. For many, the responsibility to care for family members or to earn family income took precedence over school, and for others, lack of digital access hampered regular attendance while most schools were engaged in distance learning. Beyond these major obstacles, students coped with disruptions to college and career planning, and missed out on academic, linguistic, and social-emotional supports, and the many extracurricular and community-based activities that often deepen and add meaning to students’ high school years.
This webinar illuminates these and other challenges experienced over the last two years. Speakers describe state- and district-level efforts to help ELs re-engage in high school, recover academically, and address mental health needs. Participants also hear the results of new research on the postsecondary aspirations of immigrant-background Latina/o students and how the pandemic may have helped shape their decisionmaking.