Scarritt-Bennett and NPT Partner on Screening and Discussion about ELL Graduation Challenges

Translating the Dream

Scarritt-Bennett Center and Nashville Public Television (NPT) invite the community to a free screening of the NPT “American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen” documentary NPT Reports: Translating the Dream on Friday, February 22 at 7:00 p.m. at Scarritt-Bennett Center’s Fondren Hall. The screening is open-to-the-public and will be followed by a panel discussion led by the documentary’s producer LaTonya Turner.

The program is part of a continuing partnership between the two organizations to take engaging original documentaries and present them in an intimate and welcoming setting meant to encourage community conversations.

Scarritt-Bennett Center is located at 1008 19th Ave S in Nashville, zip code 37212. Complimentary parking available in SBC Parking Lots accessible from 18th Ave S. Lot A is the closest to this building.

About “NPT Reports: Translating the Dream”

According the Tennessee Department of Education 2011 Report Card , the graduation rate for among English Language Learners (ELL) students in the state in was 70%, compared to 85% for all students. In Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS), even fewer ELL students graduate: 64%.*

In “NPT Reports: Translating the Dream,” NPT takes an in-depth look at the graduation rate among ELL and immigrant students in Tennessee; the challenges they face that can prevent them from graduating on time; how schools and teachers are trying to address this increasingly demanding need; and how all of us are impacted when students drop out of school. The half-hour documentary, produced and narrated by veteran journalist LaTonya Turner, introduces the viewer to students whose stories exemplify some of the reasons that prevent ELL and immigrant students from achieving at the same level as other students.  For some, the main challenge is learning a new language: MNPS has the highest percentage of ELL students of any school district in Tennessee, with more than 135 languages spoken among MNPS students.

Also discussed in the documentary is the challenge of “unschooled” ELL students, a reference to those students who have not had formal education until arriving in this country—mainly due to being refugees. Social and cultural factors also create obstacles for immigrant students, even those who are not ELL. And undocumented students face additional hurdles and disincentives that result from not having access to similar benefits that come with legal citizenship.

“While many factors contribute to the wide gap in graduation rates,” says Turner, “educators we spoke to point to the state’s new method of calculating grad rates.”

In 2011, the formula for a student to graduate on time and earn a regular diploma switched from a requirement of 5 years and up to age 22, to 4 years and up to age 18, a change NPT dissects in its second American Graduate” Let’s Make it Happen” documentary, NPT Reports: Graduation by the Numbers, which premiered in January 2013.

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