NYC English Language Learners Still Struggling Two Years Into Pandemic

There were roughly 145,723 English language learners (ELL)—representing 13.3 percent of all students, including school-age and preschool students—in New York City public schools last year. Two years after the pandemic hit the city, there are several academic areas in which ELLs have not recovered.

Ed Reed/NYC Mayor’s Office

A scene from the first day of school in September 2021.

Translated from Spanish by Daniel Parra. Lea la versión en español aquí. 

Two years after the pandemic changed the way classes are taught in New York City public schools, English Language Learners (ELLs) continue to struggle.

Students for whom English is a new language, roughly 145,723 kids enrolled during the 2020-2021 school year, regularly have a learning gap—but being out of school for in-person learning for more than a year, teachers say, further widened it. Skills such as fluency, reading comprehension, and writing are some of the problem areas for ELLs, so some schools have created additional learning times to close this gap.

Through a request sent by the Citywide Council on English Language Learners (CELL), responsible for advising and commenting on educational policies that involve ELL students in the city, City Limits received direct feedback via email from representatives at 15 schools on the continuing impact of the pandemic on these students. 

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