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Teenagers without English skills face highest high school hurdles of all

A DILEMMA

In Minnesota, state funding for high school students goes away after they turn 21 years old. Districts may choose to keep students longer, though it’s not always feasible.

The age-out deadline doesn’t prohibit districts from serving students past age 21, said Michael Bowlus, English learner education specialist at the Minnesota Department of Education.

“The district really has a responsibility to serve all their students and figure out how to do that appropriately,” he said. “Funding from the state or federal government should be part of that, not all of it.”

But the deadline does present a “dilemma,” he said. Not only do districts lose funding for students who stay past 21, but they’re also setting a precedent. If they allow English Language Learners to stay on, he said, it’s possible other students might ask for the same treatment.

At a few Twin Cities high schools that serve mainly new immigrants, though, the dilemma is that most students could use additional time.

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