Most California school districts did not include best practices for English learners in their distance learning reports last spring, according to an analysis of 79 school districts’ COVID-19 Operations Written Reports, conducted by the nonprofit organization Californians Together.

The organization reviewed how well districts included English Language Development, live interactive instruction, efforts to bridge the digital divide, family collaboration, social-emotional support, and early education for children who speak a language other than English at home.

In fact, in the districts with the largest number and/or largest percentage of English learners, nearly 4 in 10,  provided little to no information about what they did to ensure that these students received English Language Development instruction, as required by law. Even when districts did report having offered English Language Development, it was unclear what was offered or how many students attended. More than half of the reports revealed little to no evidence that schools regularly delivered live instruction to their students, which is important for English learners. Only 12 out of 79 districts guaranteed daily live interaction in the spring.

The reports’ authors urge districts to focus on English learners’ needs this fall. “These students have historically faced systemic biases and opportunity gaps throughout the state’s public education system. If local education leaders do not prioritize EL students’ needs now, amidst a historically unprecedented crisis, they are ensuring that these opportunity gaps will further widen,” reads the report.