Christine Stuart photo
A task force convened by House Speaker Brendan Sharkey concluded Tuesday that programs for children who are learning to speak English are “woefully underfunded and understaffed.”

The task force, which completed its work in 45 days, recommended the state increase its instruction for these English Language Learners from 30 months to 60 months. It also suggested adopting reciprocity agreements with other states to boost the number of certified teachers. And it asks the state Education Department to disaggregate its data collection and disseminate English Learner data in all test areas.

Rep. Juan Candelaria, D-New Haven, said “our language learners deserve equity… but in order to even get to that point we need to address our system.”

He said the recommendations don’t fix all the issues, but it gets the state headed in the right direction to help close “the most significant achievement gap in the entire country.”

Sharkey estimated that it would need to “repurpose” about $5 million in funds already allocated to the state Education Department in order to fund the pilot programs, which will provide greater data on the students.