PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) -- As the state prepares to take over Providence Public Schools in the wake of the Johns Hopkins report, Tuesday another critical report was released -- this time, about English learners.

"We're failing the kids at all levels. It's almost criminal what's happening there," said Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green. "The other kids are struggling, but these kids even more so."

The commissioner says some schools are showing no English language learners at proficiency.

"It's a real crisis," she said. "It's a situation where we've really let down a whole generation of kids."

The Council of the Great City Schools report says Providence Schools have not kept up with the pace of a growing English learner population.

"We have to serve all our kids, and we have not," Infante-Green said. "But this particular population, we have just been negligent. There's no other word for it."

Even at Classical High, one of the best-performing public high schools in the city and state, the commissioner says English learners are excluded.

"Just because you don't have a mastery of English doesn't mean you are not at a level that can actually learn at that same capacity," she said.

Among the report's recommendations are more funding, teachers, and professional development for English learner programs.

Infante–Green says she plans to hire more multilingual teachers, and to start more dual language programs with a modernized teaching approach.

"We are going to be fierce advocates for this population in a way that this state has never seen before," she said.

The commissioner adds that all teachers – not just those specifically working in English learning programs – need better training on how to serve that population.


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