New London Graduation Requirement: Speak English

Only 16 percent of 10th graders test at the highest levels.

By LeAnne Gendreau
|  Monday, May 16, 2011  |  Updated 6:46 PM EDT
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The schools superintendent says, beginning in 2015, students must be able to read and write English in order to graduate.

The schools superintendent says, beginning in 2015, students must be able to read and write English in order to graduate.

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Students in New London will not only have to pass English to graduate, but they will have to prove that they know the American English language and be able to demonstrate it as of 2015.

The board of education on Thursday approved the major change to city education policy, according to the Day of New London.

The student body includes immigrants from 28 countries, the Day reports. And the school district Web site includes translations in 52 languages.

"We know from colleges and employers, that our students are going to have to know how to read and write in English if they are going be successful," Supt. Nicholas Fischer, told the Day.

That is not to say that the school is instituting an "English only" program in which where students are told they can only speak English in the schools. New London's program is a literacy program in which students will be required to achieve a certain level of English reading and writing literacy by the 10th grade.

The school system will offer several ways for students to fulfill their English language requirement and they have until the age of 21 to meet it.

One community leader has no problem with testing students in English, but was concerned about students making it to 11th grade without being able to speak the language.

"It's good that we are raising standards, and I don't see a problem with testing," Elizabeth Garcia Gonzalez, executive director of Centro de la Comunidad and a former school board president, told the Day. 

"But I have concerns about a student who comes into the high school at 11th grade and can't speak the language."

The state department of education does not have a policy of this kind.
 

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