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Research & Reports

About ELLs

Between Two Worlds: How Young Latinos Come of Age in America

Author: PEW Research Center

Summary: This in-depth report interviewed Latino youth between the ages of 16-25 using a telephone survey conducted on a nationally representative sample of 2,012. Areas explored include: attitudes, values, social behaviors, family characteristics, economic well-being, educational attainment, and labor force outcomes. The report also addresses trends in immigration, self-identification, and participation in risky behaviors. The importance of research within this particular demographic group is that life choices made during this period can have a significant impact on young adults' futures. It is also a time when young adults navigate their dual-identity as Americans and Latinos.

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Tags: Latino ELL Students;

Target Population: High School, Post-Secondary

Findings:

Demographics

  • Latinos make up about 18% of all youths in the U.S. ages 16 to 25, with a high concentration of the young Latino population residing in New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and Colorado.
  • More than two thirds (68%) of young Latinos are of Mexican heritage, and they are growing up in families that on average have less "educational capital" than do other Latinos.

Identity and Language

  • Asked which term they generally use first to describe themselves, young Hispanics show a strong preference for their family’s country of origin (52%) over American (24%) or the terms Hispanic or Latino (20%).
  • By a ratio of about two to one, young Hispanics say there are more cultural differences (64%) than commonalities (33%) within the Hispanic community in the U.S.
  • About one third (36%) of Latinos ages 16 to 25 are English dominant in their language patterns, while 41% are bilingual and 23% are Spanish dominant.
  • Seven in ten (70%) say that when speaking with family members and friends, they often or sometimes use a hybrid known as "Spanglish" that mixes words from both languages.

Social Challenges

  • Young Hispanic females have the highest rates of teen parenthood of any major racial or ethnic group in the country.
  • About seven in ten (69%) Latino youths say that becoming a teen parent prevents a person from reaching one's goals in life; 28% disagree.
  • About three in ten (31%) young Latinos say they have a friend or relative who is a current or former gang member. This degree of familiarity with gangs is much more prevalent among the native born than the foreign born — 40% versus 17%.
  • Perceptions of discrimination are more common among native-born young Latinos than among those who are foreign born.

Education and Career

  • Young Latinos are satisfied with their lives, optimistic about their futures and place a high value on education, hard work, and career success.
  • Even more so than other youths, young Latinos have high aspirations for career success. Some 89% say it is very important in their lives, compared with 80% of the full population of 18- to 25-year-olds who say the same.
  • Latinos believe in the rewards of hard work. More than eight-in-ten—including 80% of Latino youths and 86% of Latinos ages 26 and older—say that most people can get ahead in life if they work hard.
  • Nearly three quarters of Latino youths who cut off their education before college cite financial pressure to support a family. About half cite poor English skills.
  • When asked a question that presented a number of possible reasons that Latinos do not do as well as other students in school, more respondents blamed poor parenting and poor English skills than blamed poor teachers.
  • The household income of young Latinos lags well behind that of young whites and is slightly ahead of young blacks.
  • The poverty rate among young Latinos declines significantly from the first generation (29%) to the second (19%).

Pew Research Center/Pew Hispanic Center. (2009). Between Two Worlds: How Young Latinos Come of Age in America, Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center.

Bilingual Effects on Cognitive and Linguistic Development: Role of Language, Cultural Background, and Education

Author: Barac, R. & Bialystok, E.

Summary: In this study, researchers compared 104 six-year-old children belonging to 4 groups (English monolinguals, Chinese-English bilinguals, French-English bilinguals, Spanish-English bilinguals) on a series of tasks in order to determine the effect of bilingualism on development. Taking into account language, cultural background, and the language of schooling, researchers examined the outcomes of language tasks and cognitive tasks across the groups. They found that bilingualism had a positive effect on executive control tasks, but that the performance on the language task varied depending on educational experience and the similarity between the two languages.

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Tags: Bilingual Instruction; Bilingualism / Biliteracy; Language of Instruction; Language Proficiency; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Elementary School

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • What are the bilingual effects on development?
  • What roles do educational background, language background, and the relationship between the two languages have on development?
  • How do the effects of bilingualism on cognitive and linguistic development differ?

Barac, R. & Bialystok, E. (2012). Bilingual Effects on Cognitive and Linguistic Development: Role of Language, Cultural Background, and Education. Child Development.

Building Collaboration Between Schools and Parents of English Language Learners: Transcending Barriers, Creating Opportunities

Author: Harry, B., Waterman, R. (2008). Building Collaboration Between Schools and Parents of English Language Learners: Transcending Barriers, Creating Opportunities. National Institute for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems.

Summary:

Parents of English Language Learners (ELLs) represent a vital source of support for increased student engagement and achievement; they bring skills, values and knowledge that would benefit both students and teachers. Most importantly, they bring profound commitment and motivation: The majority of the parents of ELLs have come to the United States in order that they and their children will have a "better life." And many of these families quickly come to believe that supporting their children's educational attainment is central to turning this dream into a reality. This brief discusses how to build collaboration between schools and parents of ELLs.

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Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: How can schools collaborate with parents of English language learners?

Findings:

  • Analysis of research and practice illuminates several factors that contribute to the paradoxical views of ELL parents and their involvement in their children's schools and education. Each of these factors pertains to having the means and opportunity for viable parent-school collaboration, in relation to: school-initiated efforts to build partnerships with parents; language; comprehensible information about U.S. schools and culturally and linguistically diverse families; special concerns related to special education referral and placement; immigrant isolation; legal status.
  • Parents of ELLs represent a vital source of support for increased student engagement and achievement; they bring skills, values and knowledge that would benefit both students and teachers.
  • At the outset, however, it is important to understand that ELL parent–school collaboration cannot be approached in the same ways that parent involvement has traditionally been understood and implemented in schools. The experiences, strengths and needs of this population are different, as are the vehicles for inviting school engagement and relationships with school staff.
  • Ultimately, the possibilities are promising and compelling. If schools devote time and resources toward developing new ways of understanding and approaching parent-school collaboration, they will generate a strong and cohesive source of support for increased ELL school engagement and success, as well as increased satisfaction for parents and school staff.

Policy Recommendations:

  • School principals provide explicit support for parent involvement work.
  • Initiate effective communication with parents.
  • Offer parents an English as a second language class or a family literacy program.
  • Create and support parent leadership development.
  • Create and support a district-level parent-school advisory council.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Arizona State University P.O. Box 872011 Tempe, Arizona 85287-2011

Harry, B., Waterman, R. (2008). Building Collaboration Between Schools and Parents of English Language Learners: Transcending Barriers, Creating Opportunities. National Institute for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems.

Children in Immigrant Families - The U.S. and 50 States: National Origins, Language, and Early Education

Author: Child Trends and the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis at SUNY-Albany / Donald Hernandez, Nancy Denton, and Suzanne Macartney

Summary: At the time of this report's publishing, children from newcomer families (families with at least one foreign-born parent) account for 20 percent of the nation's schoolchildren. This research brief, whose data is based on the year 2000 census, makes the case that children of newcomer families will continue to make up a significant portion of American schoolchildren.

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Tags: Asian ELL Students; Bilingual Instruction; Bilingualism / Biliteracy; Latino ELL Students; Other ELL Students (Middle Eastern, African, European, etc.); Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA;

Target Population: Preschool

Research Questions the Report Poses: None; instead makes the case that newcomer families and the children within them are, and will continue to be, a significant demographic in American education.

Findings:

  • 25 percent of children from newcomer families have a parent who was born in the United States.
  • Two-thirds of children from newcomer families have parents who have lived in the United States for ten or more years.
  • 80% of children from newcomer families are US citizens
  • Almost 60% of children have at least one parent who speaks English exclusively or very well
  • Three-quarters of children from newcomer families speak English exclusively or very well
  • Almost half of newcomer children speak both English and another language fluently or close to fluently
  • Approximately a quarter of newcomer children are from linguistically isolated households
  • Children from newcomer families going to pre-school with lower prevalence than children from native born families

Policy Recommendations:

  • More resources need to be devoted to getting good early education to children from newcomer families
  • A re-examination must take place of education policy toward language instruction, especially views of bi-literacy and bilingualism
  • Education programs can and should improve outreach to newcomer parents

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Child Trends
Bonnie Wahiba
4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 350
Washington, DC 20008
E-Mail: bwahiba@childtrends.org
Phone: (202) 572-6136
Fax: (202) 362-8420 (third floor, Suite 350)

Hernandez, D., Denton, N., and Macartney, S. (2007, April). Child Trends and Children in Immigrant Families - The U.S. and 50 States: National Origins, Language, and Early Education. Albany, NY: Center for Social and Demographic Analysis at SUNY-Albany

Children in Immigrant Families: Ensuring Opportunity for Every Child in America

Author: Cervantes, W.D. & Hernandez, D.J., First Focus: Foundation for Child Development.

Summary:

This policy brief draws on key indicators from the Foundation for Child Development Child Well-Being Index (CWI), as well as additional data, to highlight both similarities and differences in the circumstances of children in immigrant and native-born families. Additional statistics that pertain particularly to the situation of children in immigrant families, namely citizenship and language skills, are also provided. Finally, this brief discusses recently passed federal legislation as it relates to children in immigrant families and points to policies that will ensure that we as a country are securing our future by providing opportunity for every child.

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Target Population: K-12

Research Questions the Report Poses: How can we secure our future as a country by providing opportunity for every child?

Findings:

  • Children in immigrant families are less likely than children in native-born families to be enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten (45.0 % versus 49.8 %).
  • The typical child of an immigrant lives in a family with a median income of $46,000, which is more than one-fifth less than the median income of $58,000 of the typical child in a native-born family.
  • About one-in-five children of immigrants (18 %) is an English language learner and about one-in-four (26 %) lives in a linguistically isolated household, where no one over the age of 13 speaks English exclusively or very well.
  • Thirty percent of children in immigrant families have an unauthorized parent, including 6 percent of children in immigrant families who are themselves unauthorized.
  • Given that children of immigrants represent one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. child population, it is imperative that policies aimed at improving outcomes for children also address the specific access barriers and needs of children in immigrant families.

Policy Recommendations:

  • The recently passed Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act both include important provisions that will improve access to critical programs for vulnerable, low-income children, including children of immigrants.
  • As future legislation impacting children is considered, it will be important for policymakers to specifically address the access barriers and needs of children in immigrant families. Equally critical will be the need for Congress to prevent children from being unnecessarily harmed by immigration legislation.
  • A reauthorized ESEA must include legislation across the board that specifically addresses the academic challenges facing children of immigrants while simultaneously building on their strengths.
  • All children growing up in America should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential regardless of immigration status, and policies and programs aimed at serving vulnerable children should also be extended to unauthorized children.
  • Ultimately, a comprehensive immigration reform bill will be needed to fix a system that is fundamentally broken.
  • It is critical that Congress preserve the inalienable rights of children enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Foundation for Child Development 295 Madison Avenue, 40th Floor New York, NY 10017

Cervantes, W.D. & Hernandez, D.J. (2011). Children in Immigrant Families: Ensuring Opportunity for Every Child in America. First Focus: Foundation for Child Development.

Classifying California's English Learners: Is the CELDT too Blunt an Instrument?

Author: García Bedolla, L. & Rodriguez, R. (2011). Policy Reports and Research Briefs, Center for Latino Policy Research, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley. Classifying California's English Learners: Is the CELDT too Blunt an Instrument?

Summary:

There are 1.6 million English learners (ELs) in California's K-12 public schools, comprising a quarter of California public school students and thirty percent of EL students in the United States. Our study provides strong evidence that California school districts are misidentifying large numbers of entering kindergarten students as English learners. California's home language survey over identifies children to be administered the California English Language Development Test (CELDT). Because only about 94 percent of kindergarten students taking the CELDT in 2009-10 were classified English language proficient, being identified to take the CELDT almost guarantees a student's classification as EL. Our findings call into question the validity of the home language survey and the CELDT as the tools for identifying EL students in California.

EL misidentification is important because it means that these students are not receiving the language support and education that is appropriate to their language skills. In addition, in an era of budget crises, it becomes especially vital that scarce language development resources be targeted as effectively as possible. The wide net currently being cast by California's EL classification system in some ways renders the classification itself meaningless, given its application to such a wide range of students. Part of the problem is that there is no clear definition of what constitutes "an English language learner" (Abedi 2008, Abedi & Gándara 2006). That definition is left to district interpretation, resulting in significant variability in classification criteria and rates across the state.

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Target Population: K-12

Research Questions the Report Poses: Is the CELDT too Blunt an Instrument?

Findings:

  • In 2009-10 more than half of the districts (69) tested 20 percent or more students than would be expected given their current EL student population. This indicates that the home language survey is over identifying students to be administered the CELDT.
  • Only about fifteen percent of the districts included in our survey had a system or process in place to address the problem of misidentification from the HLS.
  • The examination of the testing data shows that few students taking the CELDT are found to be English language proficient.

Policy Recommendations:

  • The goal of California's public education system should be to provide students with a meaningful educational setting that engages them, meets their developmental needs, and fosters their academic growth.
  • The California Department of Education, in consultation with school districts, scholars, parents, and community organizations, should revisit the use of the home language survey as the sole trigger for CELDT testing and consider alternatives that recognize bilingual households as a benefit for children, rather than a presumed deficit.
  • California school districts need to develop and put into practice formal processes that families can access in the case of an EL misidentification, given the strong likelihood this happens to a non-trivial number of California public school students every year.
  • The structure and administration of the CELDT needs to be examined more deeply, particularly taking into consideration the needs of entering kindergarten students and addressing the variability in the exam's administration across districts.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Center for Latino Policy Research at UC Berkeley 2547 Channing Way, 3rd Floor Berkeley, CA 94720

García Bedolla, L. & Rodriguez, R. (2011). Policy Reports and Research Briefs, Center for Latino Policy Research, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, UC Berkeley. Classifying California's English Learners: Is the CELDT too Blunt an Instrument?

Demography of Immigrant Youth: Past, Present, and Future

Author: Jeffrey S. Passel. The Future of Children. Princeton University. Brookings Institute.

Summary: Jeffrey Passel surveys demographic trends and projections in the U.S. youth population, especially immigrant youth. He traces shifts in the youth population over the past hundred years, examines population projections through 2050, and offers some observations about the likely impact of the immigrant youth population on American society. He provides data on the legal status of immigrant families and on their geographic distribution across the United States. The changing demographic structure in U.S. youth is likely to present policy makers with several challenges in coming decades, including higher rates of poverty among youth, particularly among foreign–born children and children of undocumented parents; high concentrations of immigrants in a handful of states; and a lack of political voice. A related challenge may be intergenerational competition between youth and the elderly for governmental support. In conclusion, Passel notes that today's immigrants and their children will shape many aspects of American society and will provide virtually all the growth in the U.S. labor force over the next forty years. Their integration into American society and their accumulation of human capital thus require continued attention from researchers and policy makers.

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Tags: Latino ELL Students; Rights, Parents; Rights, Students;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • What are the trends regarding racial demographics and distribution over the past few decades?
  • what are they expected to be in coming years?
  • What implications does the shifting demography have on the U.S.?

Findings:

  • More children live in the United States than ever before, but they represent the smallest share of the population in U.S. history.
  • Children are the most diverse racially and ethnically of any age group now or in the country's history, accounted for especially by immigrants from Asian and Latin American countries.
  • Immigrant youth—those who migrated to the U.S. or who were born to immigrant parents—currently account for about one–quarter of all children.
  • Four of every five immigrant children are U.S.-born; three–quarters of the children of unauthorized immigrants are also born in the United States.
  • Children of immigrants live in every state, but their numbers and shares differ dramatically from state to state. Three–fourths of immigrant children live in just ten states:Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Washington. Nearly half of all immigrant children live in just three states (CA, TX, and NY), and CA alone is home to 28 percent of this group).
  • Within about 25 years, immigrant youth will represent about one–third of an even larger number of children.
  • Because of their numbers and the challenges facing the country, immigrant youth will play an important role in the future of the United States. Their integration into American society and their accumulation of human capital require continued attention from researchers, policy makers, and the public at large.

Passel, J.S. (2011). "Demography of Immigrant Youth: Past, Present, and Future." Immigrant Children 21 (1). The Future of Children. Retrieved from: http://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=74&articleid=539.

Educational and Mothering Discourses and Learner Goals: Mexican Immigrant Women Enacting Agency in a Family Literacy Program

Author: Toso, B.W. Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy.

Summary:

This study examined how Mexican immigrant women enrolled in a family literacy program used mainstream ideas of mothering and parent involvement in education to pursue their own personal and academic goals. Like other adult learners (Perry & Purcell-Gates, 2005), these mothers appropriated dominant parenting and educational discourses in the U.S. to justify furthering their education, to support their future goals, to create new identities, and to demonstrate their mothering abilities. Participants negotiated multiple identities such as mother, wife, and woman by combining discourses of raising a literate child and being a good mother. At other times these identities conflicted with achieving some of their goals. The study offers adult education scholars and practitioners alternative ways of understanding learners, their goals, and pathways to achieving these goals.

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Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are some alternative ways of understanding learners, their goals, and pathways to achieving these goals?

Findings:

  • The findings revealed that women were at times faced with the dilemma of choosing between Mexican ideas about mothering and those embedded in the family literacy program.
  • However, they also used family literacy discourses to justify their educational pursuits, gain power and prestige in their nuclear and extended families, work toward more equitable gender relationships in the home, set goals, expand their identity, and participate in mainstream society.
  • Furthermore, participation in family literacy classes helped to support their children's academic success.
  • Lastly, participants combined U.S. and Mexican discourses to reflect their ideas of good mothering and demonstrate their mothering abilities.

Policy Recommendations:

    For practitioners and administrators:
  • Identify differences and similarities between learners' notions of mothering and education and those underlying program curricula and educators' belief systems. Discuss these differences and similarities with learners so they can better understand the taken-for-granted rules of mainstream society and institutions.
  • Involve learners in program and curricular decisions so that their goals and desires can be represented. This can also enhance their self-esteem and prestige outside the classroom.
  • Develop learning plans with students to identify their goals and barriers to, and benefits of, attending classes.
  • For policy makers:
  • Support family literacy funding since it provides programming that enables mothers to enroll in adult education and fulfill their role as a Good Mother, oftentimes perceived as the primary and most important role for women, thereby eliminating the need for women to choose between the two.
  • Identify and use language that portrays immigrant mothers as having skills and knowledge that benefit the local U.S. community.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy 401D Keller Building, University Park, PA 16802

Toso, B.W. (2012). Educational and Mothering Discourses and Learner Goals: Mexican Immigrant Women Enacting Agency in a Family Literacy Program.Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy.

Enabling Academic Success For Secondary Students with Limited Formal Schooling: A Study of the Haitian Literacy Program at Hyde Park High School in Boston

Author: Walsh, C.E., Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory: A Program of The Education Alliance at Brown University.

Summary:

This publication addresses this concern by documenting a successful literacy program in one Boston public school: the Haitian Literacy Program at Hyde Park High School. In operation since 1988, the Haitian Literacy Program is the longest-running high school literacy program in the region for bilingual students with limited formal education and the only such program that we are aware of in the nation for Haitians. Through a case study approach, the publication examines students' educational success and the program traits that staff and students believe have enabled academic achievement, high school graduation, and higher education participation.

The study challenges the belief of many high school administrators that students who cannot read and write do not belong in high school and that high schools are not equipped to meet these students' needs. By means of a staff-developed program that functioned for many years without additional funds, teachers in the Haitian Literacy Program have not only taught students to read and write but also have enabled these students to make the transition into a regular bilingual education program and eventually graduate from high school. Moreover, some of the students have gone on to attend college. This publication is for educational practitioners and those in universities, agencies, and organizations who work with schools in designing programs that will enable the academic success of these students.

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Target Population: High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: How can teachers design programs that will enable the academic success of English Language Learners?

Findings:

  • While few cities and states collect data on these students, informal estimates indicate that 10-15% of bilingual students in many urban school districts may lack or have major gaps in their formal schooling.
  • According to some school officials in Boston, for example, the number of middle and high school-aged students with limited formal schooling arriving from rural and/or war-torn areas of the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, and Latin America may be anywhere from 40-75%.
  • The most crucial area for improvement is the need for stronger central office support, including better coordination and communication among the central office, the school, and the program; and increased funding for staff, materials, and material development. A second area for improvement is the need to designate program teachers through a specialized position that requires specific preparation and/or training.
  • For students who had no more than several years of formal schooling before entering high school, the fact that at least half of these students graduate and 39% of these graduates go on to college shows success.
  • Accepting that there are students in secondary schools across the nation who lack literacy and basic skills because of limited schooling is a first step in addressing the "all children" agenda. The second and even more crucial step is developing and putting into practice program structures and teaching approaches that best serve the learning potential and unique realities of these students.

Policy Recommendations:
N/A

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
222 Richmond Street, Suite 300 Providence, RI 02903-4226

Walsh, C.E., (1999). Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory: A Program of The Education Alliance at Brown University. Enabling Academic Success For Secondary Students with Limited Formal Schooling: A Study of the Haitian Literacy Program at Hyde Park High School in Boston.

English Language Learners' Math and Reading Achievement Trajectories in the Elementary Grades: Full Technical Report

Author: Galindo, C. National Institute for Early Education Research, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Packard Foundation.

Summary:

Using the ECLS-K database, this report examines language minority students' math and reading learning trajectories between kindergarten and fifth grade taking into account differences in oral English proficiency, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. There are five main findings. First, compared to native-English speaking students, children deemed as language minority in kindergarten show important educational disadvantages that remain significant through fifth grade. Second, achievement gaps decrease over time, particularly in math, even though achievement gaps remain at the end of fifth grade.

Third, Hispanic language minority students, students who are not proficient in oral English at the beginning of kindergarten, and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds have greater math and reading disadvantages than do Asian language minority students, English proficient and bilingual students, and those of higher socioeconomic status. Fourth, oral English proficiency at kindergarten entry predicts language minority student's math and reading achievement outcomes in subsequent years. Fifth, different trends in achievement gaps are observed for reading and math across language minority subgroups, suggesting that language background and oral English proficiency may differently impact children's content learning.

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Target Population: K-5

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the math and reading learning trajectories between kindergarten and fifth grade students?

Findings:

  • First, compared to native-English speaking students, language minority students, particularly students who lack oral English proficiency, have important educational disadvantages. At kindergarten entry, language minority students' have significantly lower scores than do native-English speaking students and, although these differences are reduced over time, they remain significant for through grade 5.
  • Second, there are important variations among language minority student subgroups in their patterns' of achievement. Larger achievement gaps are observed for students who are not proficient in oral English at fall of kindergarten, Hispanic students, and students in the lowest socioeconomic quintiles. In contrast, smaller achievement gaps are observed for students who are proficient in oral English at entry to kindergarten, Asian, or from the highest socioeconomic quintiles.
  • Third, achievement gaps decrease over time, particularly in math, yet important achievement gaps remain at the end of fifth grade. Language minority Hispanic students score nearly two-thirds of a standard deviation lower than native-English speaking White students in math and three-fourths of a standard deviation lower than native-English speaking students in reading by spring of fifth grade.
  • Fourth, oral English proficiency at kindergarten entry has a significant impact on students' math and reading achievement during the elementary school years. The effect of oral English proficiency remains strong over time suggesting that improving language minority students' English proficiency prior to kindergarten may be a critical mechanism to improve their later educational outcomes.
  • Fifth, different trends in achievement gaps are observed for reading and math across language minority subgroups, suggesting that language background and oral English proficiency may have different consequences for children's content development. On average, math achievement gaps between language minority groups and native-English speaking students close steadily over time, yet reading achievement gaps remain stable between the spring of third grade and fifth grade. By the spring of fifth grade, reading achievement gaps are much larger than math achievement gaps.

Policy Recommendations:
N/A

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Claudia Galindo, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Academic IV (A Wing), Room 403, Baltimore, MD 21250

Galindo, C. (2009). English Language Learners' Math and Reading Achievement Trajectories in the Elementary Grades: Full Technical Report. National Institute for Early Education Research, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Packard Foundation.

Essential Elements of Effective Practices for English Learners

Author: Karen Cadiero Kaplan, Center for Equity and Biliteracy Education Research, San Diego State University. Magaly Lavadenz & Elvira G. Armas, Center for Equity for English Learners, Loyola Marymount University with the Teachers Effectiveness Work Group, Californians Together

Summary:

One of the most powerful variables for English Learner success is the quality of their teachers. The lack of consistent and focused research-based professional development and preparation for teachers of English Learners (ELs) is a major contributing factor to the lack of adequate language and academic development. This policy brief (1) provides a synthesis of effective practices for instructing ELs; (2) presents four research-based essential elements critical for EL program implementation, teacher reflection, and monitoring of teacher effectiveness; and (3) concludes with program and policy recommendations. Three key areas for policy action are prioritized: 1) District and state level policies must require that local and state leadership support the implementation of these essential elements, and 2) Alignment of fiscal and human resources must be targeted to ensure that teachers are provided with professional development, materials and curricular program supports required to implement these key elements leading to English learner success. 3) Teacher preparation and credential requirements need to incorporate the four critical elements of effective practice for success with English Learners.

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Target Population: Teachers and English Learners

Research Questions the Report Poses: What Are the Essential Elements of Effective Practices for English Learners?

Findings:

Four essential elements emerge from the review of effective practices in EL program implementation.

  • Rigorous and Relevant Instructional Practices
  • Multiple Measures for English Learner Assessment.
  • Assessing Practices of Teachers of English Learners.
  • Collaboration and Professional Development.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Clear and Coherent Local and State-Level Policies.
  • Adequacy of School Resources.
  • Teacher Preparation and Credential Requirements.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Californians Together 525 E 7th St, Suite #207 Long Beach, CA 90813

Karen Cadiero Kaplan, Magaly Lavadenz & Elvira G. Armas. (December 2011). Essential Elements of Effective Practices for English Learners.

Improving Literacy Outcomes for English Language Learners in High School: Considerations for States and Districts in Developing a Coherent Policy Framework

Author: Koelsch, N. National High School Center.

Summary:

The development of strategies to promote literacy among adolescent English language learners (ELLs) is a critical component of improving a variety of their educational outcomes. There are significant opportunities for states to support grade-level literacy among English language learners at the high school level and to thereby increase the chances that more students are able to graduate. The following are some of the key issues to consider when improving schooling for English language learners: high school course patterns, overrepresentation of ELLs in special education, school completion and graduation requirements, English literacy and college completion, and professional development for teachers. Many of these issues cross-cut through organizational structures of state education agencies and require a coordinated approach for supporting ELLs that will enable them to succeed in high school and beyond.

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Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: How can teachers improve literacy outcomes for English Language Learners in High School?

Findings:

  • English language learners who are able to negotiate entry into high-level courses develop higher levels of literacy than do ELLs of similar proficiency who are tracked in low-level courses.
  • Latino English language learners are overrepresented in special education.
  • ELL students have a better chance to achieve at high levels when academic barriers to college preparation and accelerated courses are removed.
  • College preparatory courses can be accompanied by enrollment in academic support classes when necessary.
  • States need to provide leadership to ensure that English language learners in high school are provided accelerated and enriching academics rather than remediation.

Policy Recommendations:
N/A

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
National High School Center. American Institutes for Research, 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007.

Koelsch, N. (2006) National High School Center, American Institutes for Research. Improving Literacy Outcomes for English Language Learners in High School: Considerations for States and Districts in Developing a Coherent Policy Framework

Improving Reading Across Subject Areas With Word Generation

Author: Lawrence, J.F., Snow, C.E. & White, C. Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Summary:

In this report, there is evidence that vocabulary instruction can have an important and lasting impact on student word learning. Compared with their native English-speaking peers, language minority students on average have lower reading performance in English. While numerous factors account for this gap, researchers have pointed to differences in word knowledge as part of the explanation. Language minority students have both less depth and less breadth of vocabulary.

There is reason to think, that a robust vocabulary intervention that targets academic language may improve vocabulary and reading comprehension in the short run while also supporting the struggling reader's facility at learning new words independently. The research project described here presents findings from an unmatched quasi-experiment of the Word Generation Program, an intervention firmly grounded in what is currently known about effective practice, while also casting light on how enhanced vocabulary levels relate to improved reading comprehension. The goal of Word Generation is to improve vocabulary so that it results in improved reading comprehension; clearly, short-term vocabulary learning will not generate long-term comprehension improvement.

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Target Population: Middle School (6th, 7th, 8th grades)

Research Questions the Report Poses: Can the 'Word Generation Program' improve the vocabulary and reading skills of English Language Learners?

Findings:

  • Descriptive statistics show that students in the Word Generation Program learned approximately the number of words that differentiated eighth from sixth graders on the pretest. In other words, participation in 20–22 weeks of the curriculum was equivalent to two years of incidental learning.
  • In the comparison schools English-only students improved more than language minority students, in the treatment schools language-minority students improved more than English-only students.
  • Students who benefited most from participation in Word Generation had higher MCAS scores than students with similarly improved vocabularies acquired without Word Generation exposure.
  • Despite the evidence of vocabulary gains for all Word Generation participants on average, and in particular for language minority participants, we did not know whether these students maintained vocabulary knowledge after summer vacation and through the following school year.
  • Students who participated in the intervention maintained their relative improvements at both follow-up assessments. Therefore, they have reason to expect that these students will display improved reading comprehension and enhanced academic learning.

Policy Recommendations:
N/A

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Center for Research on the Educational Achievement and Teaching of English Language Learners University of Houston Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, & Statistics 100 TLCC Annex Houston, TX 77204-6022

Lawrence, J.F., Snow, C.E. & White, C. (2011). Improving Reading Across Subject Areas With Word Generation. Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In the Child's Best Interest? The Consequences of Losing a Lawful Immigrant Parent to Deportation

Author: University of California, Berkeley

Summary: This report summarizes the current state of lawful immigration (and lawful permanent resident) in the U.S. It does this through a multi-disciplinary analysis, -examin[ing] the experiences of U.S. citizen children impacted by the forced deportation of their LPR parents and proposes ways to reform U.S. law consistent with domestic and international standards aimed to improve the lives of children.

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Tags: Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA; Rights, Parents; Rights, Students;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the consequences of losing a Lawful Immigrant Parent to deportation? How can these experiences affect future reform and prevent further separation of loved ones?

Findings:
We estimate that more than 100,000 children have been affected by LPR parental deportation between 1997 and 2007, and that at least 88,000 of impacted children were U.S. citizens. Moreover, our analysis estimates that approximately 44,000 children were under the age of 5 when their parent was deported. In addition to these children, this analysis estimates that more than 217,000 others experienced the deportation of an immediate family member who was an LPR.

In the Child’s Best Interest? The Consequences of Losing a Lawful Immigrant Parent to Deportation. (2010). University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved January 13, 2011 from: http://www.law.berkeley.edu/files/Human_Rights_report.pdf

Is Public Pre-K Preparing Hispanic Children to Succeed in School?

Author: Ainsworth, P. & Laosa, L.M. National Institute for Early Education Research.

Summary:

The growth in public preschool education is based on research that shows high-quality pre-kindergarten has a positive effect on children’s chances of succeeding in school and life. Beneath the surface of this growth, however, lies a troubling lag in preschool education participation by the nation’s largest, fastest growing and yet most educationally challenged group—Hispanic children, who may be challenged by issues of poverty and language. Many Hispanic children enter school well behind their non-Hispanic counterparts, achieve at lower levels throughout school and graduate at lower rates.

The gap in school readiness is unlikely to improve unless we address it with policies that increase preschool participation by Hispanic children and design programs that better accommodate their learning needs. Doing so may well entail rethinking the current approach to many programs.

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Target Population: Preschool

Research Questions the Report Poses: Is Public Pre-K Preparing Hispanic Children to Succeed in School?

Findings:

Research shows that, when afforded the opportunity to access high-quality preschool education, children of Hispanic descent make significant gains in learning and development, including areas such as vocabulary and letter knowledge that are strongly predictive of later reading success. This suggests that broadening access to high-quality programs to a larger segment of the Hispanic population can improve school readiness among this population.

  • Increasing participation in high-quality programs is one effective public policy to address problems common among Hispanic youth. The benefits from these outcomes accrue not just to the individual but to society in the form of reduced education and criminal justice systems costs.
  • More resources should be devoted to providing classrooms with language-appropriate instruction.
  • More programs that prepare early childhood educators for the classroom should provide training aimed at addressing the needs of Hispanic children and their families.
  • Finally, more research is needed to develop approaches that are maximally effective with ELL children. Strong research is urgently needed to inform early education policy in regard to the educational needs of Hispanic children. That effort can be aided immeasurably by better systems for reporting the data upon which future research is based.

Unless substantial efforts are made on many fronts to increase access to and participation in high- quality preschool programs that effectively educated children from Hispanic backgrounds, our nation will be the poorer for it.

Policy Recommendations:

  • States should evaluate their preschool education policies, with Hispanic children in mind. If ELL status is not a factor considered for targeted program eligibility, a consideration should be given to making it so.
  • As future programs expand, conducting comparative analyses of targeted programs and pre-K for all children may prove useful. Universal programs can cost less per child and resolve problems of eligibility.
  • States should ensure programs have some support for ELL children in their home language. Programs providing some support in the home language have been shown to foster improved cognitive, linguistic and social outcomes. More effort is needed to prepare and support teachers to meet the needs of Hispanic children.
  • It should be a high priority at the state and federal levels to develop better reporting systems to ensure quality data for stronger research on Hispanic children and early education policies.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
National Institute for Early Education Research 120 Albany Street Suite 500 New Brunswick

Ainsworth, P. & Laosa, L.M. (2007). Is Public Pre-K Preparing Hispanic Children to Succeed in School? National Institute for Early Education Research.

It's How You Ask That Counts

Author: Greene, A.H. & Melton, G.D. The Journal of Communication and Education: Language Magazine.

Summary:

Amy H. Greene and Glennon Doyle Melton, are the authors of Test Talk: Integrating Test Preparation Into Reading Workshop(Stenhouse, 2007). Ms. Doyle Melton is a six-year teaching veteran at Annandale Terrace Elementary School in Annandale, Virginia, and Ms. Greene is a language arts resource teacher and coach at the same school. The two of them speak about their experiences teaching. The first question they asked themselves was "Why do our students need to pass standardized tests at all?"

After much soul searching, they had to admit that federal pressure was not the only reason students needed to learn to pass tests. Test taking is a life skill. While they believed the test was biased against their students, especially those who came from low-income families and/or spoke English as a second language, they also knew that much of their academic and professional futures would be determined by their performance on similarly flawed tests. Many would need to pass tests to get into college and to further their careers. Professions from chef to certified public accountant to teacher require success on tests just to get a foot in the door. Their students, especially those who had recently immigrated and had little experience with our culture, language, or testing system, needed us to help them beat these standardized tests in order to have the advantage they deserved.

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Target Population: K-12

Research Questions the Report Poses: Can concentrating on teaching the language of testing dramatically improve results for English language learners?

Findings:

  • As they researched their own and other state's tests further they were amazed at the command of the English language and extensive vocabulary that was required in order to answer the simplest of questions.
  • All teachers, especially those of ESL students, need to research their own state's test, learn the language it uses, and teach it deliberately and in context with the corresponding content areas. Because the truth is that every standardized test, regardless of its focus, be it math, social studies, or writing, is first a reading and vocabulary test.
  • As a result of these findings, they developed a new approach to preparing students for tests that helps all students and is particularly helpful for English language learners. The premise of their approach is that a standardized test is its own genre, complete with its own unique format and vocabulary, and that the test genre needs to be taught, explored, and practiced just like any other genre.

Policy Recommendations:

  • There are so many ways to empower students on standardized tests, and it makes such a difference to them when, as teachers, we take the time and effort to do it.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Language Magazine 131 S. Topanga Canyon Blvd. Topanga, California 90290

Greene, A.H. & Melton, G.D. (2007). The Journal of Communication and Education: Language Magazine. It's How You Ask That Counts.

Language Demands and Opportunities in Relation to Next Generation Science Standards for English Language Learners: What Teachers Need to Know

Author: Lee, O., Quinn, H., & Valdes, G. Understanding Language: Stanford University School of Education.

Summary:

This paper from Stanford University's Understanding Language initiative discusses challenges and opportunities expected as ELLs engage with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The authors describe intersections between science practices and language learning, features of science language and "science talk," and five areas where teachers can strengthen science and language learning for ELLs: literacy strategies with all students; language support strategies; discourse strategies with ELLs; home language support; and home culture connections.

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Target Population: K-12

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the language demands and opportunities in relation to the science standards for English Language Learners?

Findings:
The authors suggest that, "A practice-oriented science classroom can be a rich language-learning as well as science-learning environment, provided teachers ensure that ELLs are supported to participate…In this context, teacher knowledge about language and language learning support strategies can improve the overall science learning experience of all students, especially of ELLs."

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Understanding Language
Stanford University School of Education
485 Lasuen Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-3096

Lee, O., Quinn, H., & Valdes, G. (2012). Language Demands and Opportunities in Relation to Next Generation Science Standards for English Language Learners: What Teachers Need to Know. Understanding Language: Stanford University School of Education.

Measures of Change: The Demography and Literacy of Adolescent English Learners

Author: Jeanne Batalova, Michael Fix, and Julie Murray / Migration Policy Institute

Summary: This report from the Migration Policy Institute examines the increasing population of ELLs. It does this by examining the ELL population and developing a profile of ELL students, examining literacy achievement on both national and state math and reading assessments, and examining state identification, testing, and accommodation policies in the following states: California, Illinois, Colorado, and North Carolina.

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Tags: Language Proficiency; Latino ELL Students; Motivation; Reading; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary; Writing;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • Who are immigrant students and students who do not speak English well?
  • Where are they from, and what is their family background (social, economic, linguistic, etc.)?
  • How well do they do in school?
  • Do their literacy levels prepare them to take part in higher education and a skilled workforce?"

Findings:

  • ELL populations are growing faster than general student populations
  • The growth of ELL populations in different states varies widely
  • Students in California are more likely to be "linguistically isolated" than students across the country or in the other three states studied
  • 57% of ELLs across the country were born in the United States
  • 70% of ELLs in grades 6-12 speak Spanish
  • NAEP data examined for 8th grade ELLs shows that only 4% and 6% of ELLs scored proficient in reading and math, respectively
  • ELLs performed radically different on state math and reading assessments from state to state
  • There is a wide achievement gap between ELL and non-ELL students on the 8th grade NAEP as well as state standardized tests
  • Former ELL students and non-ELL students scored roughly the same on NAEP and state assessments

Policy Recommendations:

  • "Reexamine whether Census data accurately capture the [ELL] population"
  • "Examine how varying state exclusion rates for ELL students affect NAEP results"
  • "Explore the literacy trajectories of former [ELL] students"
  • "Document how states vary in their testing and monitoring practices for ELL students who parents opt out of language instruction services"
  • "Leverage the research opportunities that multi-state English proficiency tests offer for analyzing ELL outcomes"

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
http://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/index.php

Batalova, J., Fix, M., and Murray, J. (2007). Measures of Change: The Demography and Literacy of Adolescent English Learners. Migration Policy Institute, Carnegie Corporation of New York: New York, NY.

NCLB and California's English language learners: The perfect storm

Author: Baca, G. & Gandara, P. Springer Science Business and Media B.V.

Summary:

It is argued here that the combination of U.S. federal education policy as embodied in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 with the passage of a California state initiative that required that "nearly all classroom instruction [be]in English … for a period not normally intended to exceed one year" in 1998 created a "perfect storm" for English Learners.

English Learners are thus provided inadequate and incomprehensible academic instruction. Federal law, meanwhile, requires that all students, even if they do not speak English, be tested annually in English for academic progress, and their schools be sanctioned if progress is not sufficient. Whether such demands can legitimately be made on schools is an unsettled issue across the United States. California's case should serve as an example to others that forcing students to be assessed in a language they do not fully comprehend violates principles of social justice wherever it is practiced.

In this article they examine the case of a group of small school districts with very high percentages of ELs attempting to literally survive in the face of a convergence of federal and state policies that have labeled the districts as educational failures and threatened to take them over. Their "failing" is that their ELs cannot pass standardized tests that are administered in a language that they do not understand.

Federal policy, which on its face, appears to be sensitive to issues of ELs, in fact creates the conditions that exacerbate bad state policy by forcing the school districts to test them in English, even though by definition they do not have sufficient command of the language to be tested in it. The state, having passed a law that in most cases forbids the use of the primary language for instruction, willfully ignores federal policy that recommends that ELs be assessed in their primary language, at least in the first three years. The federal government, perhaps having reluctantly included these protections for ELs in the law, refuses to confront the largest state, with 30% of all ELs in the country. And so, the districts are blamed for educational failure caused by policies over which they have no control.

The lessons of this case are applicable broadly to schools that must negotiate conflicting language education policies set by competing governmental entities, policymaking authorities, or education leaders who subscribe to different language ideologies. The lead authors of this paper participated actively in developing the case for the plaintiff districts, and analyzed the data and arguments brought to the court.

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Target Population: K-12

Research Questions the Report Poses: How can California school systems improve the education of English learners?

Findings:

  • Because a very high percentage—more than 25%—of students in California are ELs (California Department of Education 2007), any policy that affects these students inevitably has an impact on the entire state education system.
  • It is estimated that today about 80% of teachers in the state have ELs in their classrooms (Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning 2005). Thus, the great majority of California's teachers, too, are affected by policies that target ELs.
  • A recent survey of 5300 educators (Gandara et al. 2006) conducted in California revealed that most teachers, even those who ostensibly have taken coursework and professional development workshops designed to impart skills to meet the needs of EL students, report they do not feel prepared to teach them.
  • Approximately 91% of the schools are in "Program Improvement," 80% are experiencing corrective action or restructuring efforts that include curricular changes and appointing outside experts.

Policy Recommendations:
N/A

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
P. Gandara (&) G. Baca University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA e-mail: gandara@gseis.ucla.edu

Baca, G. & Gandara, P. (2008). Springer Science Business and Media B.V. NCLB and California’s English language learners: The perfect storm.

One Minneapolis: Community Indicators Report

Author: Kelly, L.M. & Egbert, A. The Minneapolis Foundation/Amherst Wilder Foundation

Summary:

In 2009, The Minneapolis Foundation unveiled a new strategic plan that focuses community philanthropy activities on transforming education, promoting economic vitality, and building social capital in an effort to advance social, economic, and racial equity. The strategic plan states: "The Minneapolis Foundation serves as a leader, partner, and grant-maker to help create positive change in the community, ensuring everyone has the power to build a positive future for themselves, their families, and their communities. We will invest our resources strategically towards specific key results in order to achieve social, economic, and racial equity."

As part of the evaluation of the strategic plan, The Minneapolis Foundation partnered with Wilder Research in 2010 to select community-level indicators that reflect the community's educational, economic, and social environment. The community indicators sketch a portrait of the Minneapolis landscape, in which The Minneapolis Foundation operates as a leader, partner, and grant maker. Additional data from internal records, grantees, and partners will also help explain how the grant-making and leader/partnership activities are making a difference in the community. All of these serve to illustrate the Foundation's work in advancing social, economic, and racial equity as they support efforts to transform education, promote economic vitality, and build social capital.

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Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are some important observations that reflect the Minneapolis community?

Findings:
The following issues are discussed in the form of "why it matters, how we're doing, and key observations":

  • Kindergarteners ready for school.
  • 3rd graders proficient in reading.
  • Minneapolis families living in poverty.
  • Voter participation rate residents who feel unaccepted because of their race, ethnicity, or culture.

Policy Recommendations:
N/A

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Wilder Research 451 Lexington Parkway North Saint Paul, Minnesota 55104

Kelly, L.M. & Egbert, A. (2011). The Minneapolis Foundation/Amherst Wilder Foundation. One Minneapolis: Community Indicators Report

Portrait of a Population: How English Language Learners are Putting Schools to the Test

Author: Education Week; Pew Center on the States

Summary: Education Week's Quality Counts 2009 report focuses for the first time on English language learners. Produced in partnership with the Pew Center on the States, "Portrait of a Population: How English Language Learners are Putting Schools to the Test" provides a comprehensive look at state education policies and their impact on ELLs' achievement. The report includes detailed, state-specific data on funding for ELL programs, teacher preparation standards, instructional programs, and student outcomes. There are also articles on a variety of topics related to ELLs, including assessment, immigration, state policies, current research, and teacher preparation. A highlight of the report is a series of student profiles, featuring ELL students from around the world. This report is a must-read for anyone who works with English language learners. *Report must be purchased.

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Tags: Instructional Programs; Intervention; Rights, Students;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the individual states' policies on English language learners and how are they impacting ELLs' achievement?

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Purchase a copy for $6.00 at www.edweek.org/go/buyQC or by calling 1-800-445-8250. Or subscribe to Education Week: www.edweek.org/go/subscribe.

Education Week. (2009). Portrait of a Population: How English Language Learners are Putting Schools to the Test. Bethesda, Maryland.

Resource Needs for California's English Learners

Author: University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute/ Patricia Gándara and Russell W. Rumberger

Summary: Linguistic minorities are students who come from households where English is not the main language spoken. Most of these students do not come to school proficient in English. There is a learning gap between many linguistic minorities and native English speakers that can persist throughout school. Most linguistic minorities require additional resources and support to be successful in school.

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Tags: Intervention; Language Proficiency;

Target Population: Preschool, Elementary, Middle, High School, Post-Secondary

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  1. What are the demographic characteristics and academic performance outcomes of language minority and English learner students in California public schools?
  2. What conceptual framework is appropriate for analyzing the resource needs of linguistic minority students?
  3. What resources are needed to provide an adequate education for California English learners?
  4. How have past studies estimated the cost of these resource needs?
  5. What approach do the authors recommend for estimating the cost of educating English learners and linguistic minority students in California?

Findings:

  • Socioeconomic differences do not account for all differences in the needs of all ELL students
  • Gaps in poverty are harder to close than gaps in language
  • Resources that would help ELL students achieve English and academic proficiency include:
    1. Primary language materials (student's home language)
    2. Assessments in the primary language; and
    3. teachers and staff who speak the languages of the students

Policy Recommendations:

  • A sufficient number of teachers who have specific knowledge about the structure of language, know how to use assessments to measure language proficiency, and are bilingual;
  • Extra support personnel;
  • Appropriate instructional materials;
  • Valid and comprehensive assessments;
  • Effective school organization that provides EL students with a safe, controlled space in which to use English;
  • Effective school leadership; and
  • Appropriate district and state support.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
n/a

Gandara, P. & Rumberger, R. W. (2007, March). Resource needs for California's English learners. Stanford, CA: University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute.

Second-Language Acquisition and Bilingualism at an Early Age and the Impact on Early Cognitive Development

Author: Bialystok, E. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development.

Summary:

The possibility that early bilingualism affects children's language and cognitive development has long been a concern for parents and educators. In the first half of the 20th century, the prevailing view was that bilingualism and second-language acquisition early in life made children confused and interfered with their ability to develop normal cognitive functions and succeed in educational environments. These ideas were dramatically reversed in a landmark study by Peal and Lambert that showed a general superiority of bilinguals over monolinguals in a wide range of intelligence tests and aspects of school achievement. Recent research has been more balanced, identifying areas in which bilingual children excel and others in which bilingualism has no effect on their development.

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Target Population: Preschool, Elementary

Research Questions the Report Poses:

First, it is necessary to establish whether language acquisition proceeds at the same rate and in the same manner for children who are learning two languages simultaneously or are learning a second language after having begun to master one. Second, are children able to acquire literacy skills at school if they are either bilingual or learning a second language, especially if their home language is not the language of instruction? Finally, are there consequences on normal cognitive development in terms of the child's ability to acquire new concepts or perform various calculations (e.g. arithmetic), especially if school instruction is in the child's weaker language?

Findings:

  • There are three main outcomes from this research. First, for general language proficiency, bilingual children tend to have a smaller vocabulary in each language than monolingual children in their language. Nonetheless, their understanding of linguistic structure, called metalinguistic awareness, is at least as good as and often better than that of comparable monolinguals.
  • Second, the acquisition of literacy skills in these children depends on the relationship between the two languages and the level of proficiency in the second language. Specifically, children learning to read in two languages that share a writing system (e.g. English and French) show accelerated progress in learning to read; children whose two languages are written in different systems (e.g. English and Chinese) show no special advantage, but neither do they demonstrate any deficit relative to monolinguals. The benefit of learning to read in two languages, however, requires that children be bilingual and not second-language learners whose competence in one of the languages is weak.
  • Third, bilingual children between four and eight years old demonstrate a large advantage over comparable monolinguals in solving problems that require controlling attention to specific aspects of a display and inhibiting attention to misleading aspects that are salient but associated with an incorrect response. This advantage is not confined to language processing, but includes a variety of non-verbal tasks that require controlled attention and selectivity in such problems as forming conceptual categories, seeing alternative images in ambitious figures, and understanding the difference between the appearance and functional reality of a misleading object.

Policy Recommendations:
N/A

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development GRIP-Université de Montréal P.O. Box 6128, succ. Centre-ville Montreal (Quebec) H3C 3J7

Bialystok, E. (2008). Second-Language Acquisition and Bilingualism at an Early Age and the Impact on Early Cognitive Development. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development.

Southeast Asian American Children: Not the "Model Minority"

Author: Ka Ying Yang. The Future of Children. Princeton University. Brookings Institute.

Summary: In the second article, Yang points out that while as a group, Asian Americans are doing quite well, children whose ancestors are from Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) continue to struggle with limited English skills, discrimination, miscommunication, and feelings of alienation. She urges policymakers to recognize that these children need attention and support to overcome their barriers to success.

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Tags: Asian ELL Students; Intervention; Rights, Students;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: What general circumstances do Southeastern Asian Americans tend to experience?

Findings:

  • Limited English skills
  • Systematic communication between students, parents, and teachers
  • Discrimination
  • Widespread feelings of alienation from mainstream schools

Policy Recommendations:

  • Disaggregate and disseminate more data.
  • Promote Southeast Asian studies, courses, and personnel.
  • Support community organizations.
  • Create new systems for financial and technical support.

Yang, K.Y. (2004) “Southeast Asian American Children: Not the ‘Model Minority.’” Children of Immigrant Families 14 (2). The Future of Children. Retrieved from http://futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=39&articleid=129&sectionid=850.

Speaking Out: Latino Youth on Discrimination in the United States

Author: P. Foxen; National Council of La Raza

Summary: This report discusses and examines themes in which Latino adolescents “perceive and engage with [regard to] formative social settings or institutions” (such as school, work, law enforcement, and the juvenile justice system). It analyzes these perceptions through data received from focus groups located in 4 different cities across the country (Langley Park, MD; Nashville, TN; Providence, RI; and Los Angeles, CA) with two focus groups being conducted in each location, one focusing on first generation and the other second generation youth.

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Tags: Intervention; Latino ELL Students; Motivation; Rights, Students;

Target Population: Middle, High School, Post-Secondary (all adolescents)

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • How do Latino adolescents navigate the different social settings and institutions that they encounter in life?
  • Within the current environment, are school and work viewed by Latino youth as a great "equalizer," part of an opportunity structure that can give them the tools and security to succeed and progress?
  • Or, do Latino youth perceive these settings as further reinforcing the broader inequalities that they already face?
  • Do young Latinos feel that they are treated differently within such settings, and if so, in which specific ways do they experience and interpret these differences?
  • Broadly speaking, how do young Latinos' interactions within all of these systems affect their sense of well-being, identity, and belonging in U.S. society?

Findings:

  • Latino youth tend to have an optimistic outlook on the role of education and a strong desire to achieve successful careers. These attitudes are often associated with the hopes and expectations of their immigrant parents and with their own desire to contribute to their community and nation.
  • Despite these optimistic attitudes, the teenagers expressed a pervasive sense of being negatively stereotyped by institutional actors as varied as teachers, employers, and police officers. They described how assumptions about Hispanic youth and Latinos in general are manifested within the different social settings discussed.
  • Latino youth report significant ethnic stereotyping at school by teachers, administrators, and peers. Such stereotyping, they feel, often leads Hispanic students to be overlooked, excluded, or negatively tracked, and results in unequal educational opportunities.
  • The youth often perceive the workplace as a site of unfair practices based on racial and ethnic assumptions on the part of employers. Many of these youth's perceptions of discrimination in the workforce were directly related to the experiences of their parents and other community members.
  • Across all focus groups, the youth emphatically described feeling unfairly and habitually profiled by law enforcement as a result of negative assumptions regarding Hispanic youth, gangs, and immigrants. Such regular contact with the police, which takes place in a variety of spaces, compounds feelings of vulnerability and distrust in their communities.
  • One of the most consistent findings across the focus groups was the teenagers' pervasive sense of being racialized-or constructed as different, as "other"-on a regular basis, and in practically all realms of experience.

Foxen, P. (2010, October, 21)."Speaking Out: Latino Youth on Discrimination in the United States" National Council of La Raza. Retrieved January 3, 2011, from: http://www.nclr.org/index.php/publications/speaking_out_latino_youth_on_discrimination_in_the_united_states/

Teachers' Perspectives on a Professional Development Intervention to Improve Science Instruction Among English Language Learners

Author: Lee, O., LeRoy, K., Thornton, C., Adamson, K., Maerten-Rivera, J., & Lewis, S. Journal of Science Teacher Education.

Summary:

This report focuses on a 5-year professional development intervention designed to promote elementary teachers' knowledge, beliefs, and practices in teaching science, along with English language and mathematics for ELL students in urban schools. Researchers used an end-of-year questionnaire as a primary data source to seek teachers' perspectives on interventions during the first year of implementation, including curriculum materials and teacher workshops.

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Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: How do teachers feel about improving science instruction among English language learners?

Findings:

  • Teachers indicated that the intervention was highly effective in addressing science learning, scientific reasoning, preparation for statewide science assessment, and mathematics learning.
  • The majority of the teachers (36) indicated that their knowledge of the relevant science content was enhanced through their participation in the intervention.
  • When asked to describe the impact on how they promote English language and literacy development in science instruction, 12 teachers attributed the effectiveness to key vocabulary in three languages (English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole) included in the beginning of each lesson.

Policy Recommendations:
N/A

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
University of Miami, School of Education 5202 University Drive Coral Gables, FL 33146

Lee, O., LeRoy, K., Thornton, C., Adamson, K., Maerten-Rivera, J., & Lewis, S. (2008). Teachers' perspectives on a professional development intervention to improve science instruction among English language learners. Journal of Science Teacher Education.

The Changing Landscape of American Public Education: New Students, New Schools

Author: Pew Hispanic Research Center; Fry, Richard

Summary: The report examines two trends in American public education: increases in enrollment and increases in new schools. The report compares enrollment growth by ethnic and racial groups to the composition of newly opened schools and existing schools.

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Tags: Latino ELL Students;

Target Population: Preschool, Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: How have the schools changed in the past ten years in terms of enrollment and demographics?

Findings:

  • Hispanics account for 3 million of 4.7 million additional students in American public schools from 1993–94 to 2002–03, or 64% of the increase. The number of black students increased by 1.1 million, and the number of Asians grew by half a million. Meanwhile, white public school enrollment dropped by 35,000.
  • White students continued to attend schools populated primarily by other whites and relatively few attended schools populated primarily by minorities.
  • A relatively small number of schools absorbed most of the increase in Hispanic enrollment and that those schools differ in important ways from schools less affected by Hispanic population growth.
  • Nationwide, the average share of white students in Hispanic–impacted schools decreased from 60% to 38%. Meanwhile, in all other schools the white share declined more modestly from 71% to 66%.
  • Across all grades, new schools differ from existing schools in that they are smaller, and they have more affluent students.

Policy Recommendations:
The report did not offer policy recommendations.

Fry, R. (2006). The changing landscape of American public education: New students, new schools. Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center.

Unauthorized Immigrant Parents: Do Their Migration Histories Limit Their Children's Education?

Author: Bean, F.D., Brown, S, K., Hook, J, V & Leach, M. A. US 2010 Census Project.

Summary:

One of the thorniest issues involving unauthorized immigrants is the situation of their children, the majority of whom are born in the United States. This research focuses on Mexican immigrants, who are a majority of the country's estimated 11 million unauthorized migrants. We show that their trajectory of obtaining legal and citizenship status affects their children's educational outcomes, and that the children who get the least schooling are those whose parents, especially their mothers, remain unauthorized. Pathways to legalization thus do matter, not just for the immigrants themselves but also more broadly for the new generation of Mexican American citizens of this country.

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Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: Do the children of Mexican immigrants succeed in school?

Findings:

The findings presented here thus indicate the crucial role that opportunities for legalization play in the success and failure of the children of immigrants. Some of the findings are:

  • Only one parent had achieved legal status, either the Father or the Mother. These groups are as follows: Fathers Unauthorized Mothers Legalized (4.5 percent) and Mothers Unauthorized Fathers Legalized (14.1 percent).
  • The Mexican-American young adult respondents, by contrast, are much better educated than their parents, having completed 13 years of schooling on average.

Policy Recommendations:

  • This report suggests that legislation providing the possibility of entry into full societal membership creates benefits not only for the immigrants themselves but also for their children and potentially their children's children.
  • Those unauthorized entrants who have the opportunity to legalize and do so are able to overcome many of the disadvantages confronting them, as do their children, constitutes strong evidence in support of granting full societal membership.
  • Because parents' socioeconomic status has sizeable effects on children's education, the positive influence of such membership in the immigrant generation is also highly likely to carry over to later generations, boosting their schooling as well.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Communications Manager, US 2010 Census Project Box 1916 Brown University Providence, RI 02912

Bean, F.D., Brown, S, K., Hook, J, V & Leach, M. A. (2011). US 2010 Census Project. Unauthorized Immigrant Parents: Do Their Migration Histories Limit Their Children’s Education?

Urban Elementary Teachers' Perspectives on Teaching Science to English Language Learners

Author: Lee, O., Maerten-Rivera, J., Buxton, C., Penfield, R., & Secada, W. G. Journal of Science Teacher Education .

Summary:

This descriptive study examined urban elementary school teachers' perceptions of their science content knowledge, science teaching practices, and support for language development of English language learners. It also examined teachers' perceptions of organizational supports and barriers associated with teaching science to diverse students. This study contributes to the existing literature by examining how urban elementary teachers perceive challenges at both the school and classroom levels in teaching science and English language development to non-mainstream students, especially ELL students.

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Target Population: Elementary School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What perceptions do urban elementary school teachers have of their science content knowledge and the effectiveness of their instruction practices with ELLs?

Findings:

  • Many elementary school teachers have difficulty adopting reform-oriented practices because they have insufficient knowledge of science content and content specific teaching strategies.
  • Some barriers to effective science instruction for ELLs include teachers' assumptions that ELL students must acquire English before learning science, as well as a lack of awareness about cultural/linguistic influences on science learning, responsibilities to "teach for diversity," or the role of linguistic differences and inequities in the science classroom.
  • Effective schools for ELL students highlight language development both in students' home languages and in English as a key feature of the school's instructional program.
  • The results are reported with regard to three domains: (a) background information about teacher preparation and professional development in science, science education, ESOL, and student diversity, (b) teacher knowledge of science content, science teaching, and English language development of ELL students, and (c) organizational supports and barriers in teaching science to non-mainstream students in urban schools.

Policy Recommendations:
N/A

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
University of Miami, School of Education 5202 University Drive Coral Gables, FL 33146

Lee, O., Maerten-Rivera, J., Buxton, C., Penfield, R., & Secada, W. G. (in press). Urban elementary teachers' perspectives on teaching science to English language learners. Journal of Science Teacher Education.