Improving High School Outcomes for Immigrant and Refugee Youth: Pressure Points for Advocates

Immigrant and ELL students face many challenges at the high school level, with rigorous curriculum demands and the clock ticking for completion of high school exit exams. This session will highlight common challenges facing newcomers, long-term ELLs, and other immigrant and refugee students in the high school grades and provide opportunities for participants to explore key pressure points community advocates can take advantage of to support their success. Moderator:

  • Sarah Hooker, Policy Analyst, Migration Policy Institute -- Sarah Hooker is a Policy Analyst at MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, where she focuses on research and policy analysis related to education, workforce development, and language acquisition. She manages MPI’s field-based research on efforts to promote the high school completion, postsecondary success, and economic advancement of English Language Learners (ELLs) and immigrant youth. Prior to joining MPI, Ms. Hooker worked with the American Youth Policy Forum on issues and policies related to college- and career readiness, education access, and success for students from under-represented groups. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and a bachelor of the arts degree in Latin American studies from Pomona College in Claremont, CA.


  • Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, Executive Director, Californians Together -- Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, the Executive Director of Californians Together, leads a coalition of 25 statewide professional, parent, and civil-rights organizations focused on improving schooling for English learners. Spiegel-Coleman was Senior Project Director for the Multilingual Academic Support Unit for the Los Angeles County Office of Education. She previously served as a member of the English Learner Advisory Committee to the California State Board of Education and has served as a member of California State Superintendent Tom Torlakson's transition team, as well as the Public School Accountability Act Advisory Committee, English Language Development Standards Project, and the California Curriculum and Supplemental Materials Commission.
  • Roxana Norouzi, Senior Education Policy Manager, OneAmerica -- Roxana Norouzi has over 12 years of experience in advocacy and social justice work with immigrant and refugee populations. Currently, she leads the education strategy for OneAmerica, Washington State's largest immigrant rights organization, where she focuses on closing the opportunity gap through local and state policies and programs that support integration of immigrant children and families. In 2010, after earning her Masters in Social Work, Roxana was awarded the University of Washington's Bonderman Fellowship which allowed her to travel to 20 countries exploring post-conflict regions, migration trends, and identity. Roxana is fluent in Farsi (Persian) and her experience as a first generation American informs her passion and commitment to justice and immigrant rights.
  • Hilda Maldonado, Director, Multilingual and Multicultural Education Department, Los Angeles Unified School District -- An educator for 23 years in LAUSD Hilda Maldonado began her career as a bilingual teacher at Murchison ES teaching a combination fifth and sixth grade bilingual class on an emergency teaching credential. She is one of 6 children and arrived in the United States as a 12 year old in the late 70s with a dream of learning English and improving her family’s economic situation. Hilda has worked as a bilingual teacher, a bilingual coordinator, an advisor in the Language Acquisition Branch, an Assistant Principal in Special Education, has transformed schools as a Principal and is now a Director of the Multilingual and Multicultural Education Department for Los Angeles Unified School District.