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MDE Helps Educators Meet the Needs of Growing Number of English Learners


For Immediate Release: July 2, 2018

JACKSON, Miss – In response the growing population of English learners in Mississippi, the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) recently published a comprehensive guide to help educators meet the needs of Mississippi’s English learner students.

The guide, Mississippi English Learner Guidelines: Regulations, Funding Guidance and Instructional Supports, provides teaching resources and practical approaches to managing the day-to-day instruction of English learners (EL).

“As our English learner population has grown over the past several years, school districts have increasingly asked the MDE for technical assistance, professional development and other supports,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “We expect this new guide to be a valuable resource for Mississippi educators as we continue to work together to ensure that all English learners get the education they need.”

The MDE also publishes a monthly video series called EL Literacy Tips of the Month.

Following the national trend, the number of EL students in Mississippi is growing each year. In early 2018, the majority of Mississippi school districts had at least one English learner. Thirty-five districts had between 10 and 50 English learners, 26 districts had between 50 and 150, and 14 districts served more than 300 English learners.

Spanish is the most prevalent language spoken by English learners in Mississippi, but more than 20 other languages are also represented. After Spanish, the most common languages spoken by EL students in Mississippi are Arabic, Vietnamese, Chinese and Gujarati.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to include in their accountability systems the progress English learners are making toward becoming proficient English speakers, readers and writers. To meet this requirement, EL progress will be factored into the calculation of accountability results for the 2017-18 school year to identify schools in need of improvement. EL progress will be part of official grades for Mississippi schools and districts starting in 2018-19.

Some school districts have adjusted to their growing EL population by implementing innovative programs that benefit all students.

North Jones Elementary School in the Jones County School District provides an English-Spanish dual immersion program for students in kindergarten and 1st grade. The program also has a component for the parents of English Learners to help them develop their English language skills.

North Jones Elementary School

The North Jones Elementary School program helps Spanish speakers retain their native language while they learn English. It also enriches the educational experience of native-English speakers because they start learning Spanish as an early age. The school has plans to expand the program into the upper grades.

View this Mississippi School Spotlight video to learn more about the English-Spanish dual immersion program at North Jones Elementary School.


Media Contact: 

Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Communications Specialist