The number of students considered English Language Learners in Indiana grew by more than 20 percent over the last five years, according to the latest Kids Count report released this week.
In 2010, there were 49,654 ELL students enrolled in both public and private schools in the state, and in 2015 that grew to 60,793.
“That’s a pretty large growth in a short period of time,” says Samantha Hart, Indiana Department of Education spokesperson.
As the number of students continues to grow, district and school programs strive to keep up.
During last year’s legislative session, the General Assembly addressed this when they re-wrote the school funding formula and doubled the amount of money given to schools with high populations of ELL students in their complexity money.
Hart says this increase in funding has allowed the Department to continue support for individual districts and schools that need assistance in serving their ELL students.
“So what we’ve been able to do is increase the amount of technical assistance and professional development and support to the schools and students across the state.”
This assistance includes specific instructional advice or helping a school navigate federal guidelines for ELL students.
But while the legislature doubled ELL funding in the complexity formula, the amount of money allocated in the complexity formula was also reduced.
The way school funding in Indiana is calculated under the new formula, every school gets the same base amount – no matter their location or student population. That’s their foundation money. Then, students that receive federal assistance like food stamps or Medicaid get extra funding from the state. During the budget session last year, complexity money was reduced statewide, which affects ELL students.
While Spanish is still the most common native language spoken by ELL students, Arabic, Mandarin, Burmese and Vietnamese are among the top ten native languages spoken by students.
The five counties in the state with the most ELL students are Marion (19,335), Elkhart (6,145), Allen (3,832), St. Joseph (2,573) and Tippecanoe (1,999).