The story is in the numbers: One out of four English language learners (ELLs), a cohort represented by a large percentage of recently-arrived immigrant students, dropped out of NYC schools in 2020. Fewer than 50 percent moreover graduated from high school in four years.

Nor is the problem limited to one or two communities: ELLs can be found in 83 percent of NYC high school classrooms.

Assistant Professor of School Psychology Prerna Arora in a co-authored Crain’s New York Business op-ed makes the point that adopting trauma-informed learning practices are key to meeting the challenge of educating the city’s “most vulnerable students.”

“[ELL] students often live in poverty as their parents work to find a footing in their new country. It is challenging to acclimate to a new language and culture, but it is particularly hard for those who are adolescents,” Arora writes in an op-ed penned with Lorey Wheeler, an Associate Research Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“Imagine, then, what these children experienced when schools shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The classroom presence of culturally-attuned and linguistically-diverse educators are keys to supporting the social-emotional and learning needs of immigrant students.

An embrace of “technologies that enable educators to communicate with families in their home language,” the authors say, is of equal importance.

Read Arora’s full op-ed here.