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Research Reports

Community Outreach

Asian Americans in Washington State: Closing Their Hidden Achievement Gaps

Author: Hune, S. and D. Takeuchi. The Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs. University of Washington.

Summary: The study begins with the premise that the academic challenges of Asian American students are hidden by: (1) the "model minority" stereotype that assumes all Asian Americans are academically successful; (2) the practice of lumping disparate Asian American groups into a single category; and (3) a predominant reliance on mainstream sources to explain Asian American educational experiences. To uncover Asian American achievement gaps, the study features disaggregated data to identify characteristics, data, and trends across and within different Asian American ethnic groups in education and other variables. It also incorporates the findings of community-based research that provide Asian American voices and insights of their situation in schools and U.S. society.

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Tags: Asian ELL Students; Intervention; Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • What are the characteristics and data demographics of Asian Americans in the state of Washington?
  • How can Asian American ELLs be better served to improve English proficiency, school achievement, and student outcomes?


  • Asian Americans speak more than 100 languages and dialects, with 40% speaking a language other than English as their primary language. The five largest language groups are Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese-Cantonese, Tagalog, and Khmer (Cambodian).
  • There is much variability when it comes to factors such as income, family education, and English proficiency across the groups (i.e., While 36.8% of Asian Americans hold a bachelor's degree or higher, only 6.6% of Cambodians do, compared to 67% and 58% of Taiwanese and Asian Indians, respectively.)
  • More than 30% of Asian Americans receive Free/Reduced Price Lunch and 14% are enrolled in Transitional Bilingual Instruction Program (TBIP).
  • Asian American ELL students are underserved, undersupported, and experience academic difficulties. Only one third of Asian Non-Native English speakers are in ELL programs and few receive language assistance services in their native language.
  • Asian American students experience alienation and marginalization in schools to varying degrees, but WASL data reveal that Filipino American and Southeast Asian American students are most at risk.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Adopt a data collection, research, and evaluation plan.
  • Create a seamless pipeline pre-k through 16, incorporating co-curricular activities and community involvement.
  • Use a broader range of measurements to evaluate student performance.
  • Foster culturally responsive approaches and practices.
  • Adopt effective ELL programs, including highly-trained and quality teachers.
  • Engage Asian American families in schools with informational meetings and translated print materials.
  • Strengthen school-community partnerships.

Hune, S. and Takeuchi, D. (2008). Asian Americans in Washington State: Closing Their Hidden Achievement Gaps. A report submitted to The Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs. Seattle, WA: University of Washington.

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.


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?


  • 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.

Diverse Children: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration in America's New Non-Majority Generation

Author: The Foundation for Child Development: Hernandez, D. & Napierala, J.S.


By 2018, it is projected that over half of all children in the U.S. will be minority, non-white children. The increasing diversity of the population makes socioeconomic and educational disparities between racial/ethnic groups all the more striking. Poverty and unemployment disproportionately affect black and Hispanic families, putting them at a social and educational disadvantage.

To address these issues, the authors of this study, published by the Foundation for Child Development, investigated how race/ethnicity, parent immigration status, and home language contribute to children's social, economic, physical, and educational well-being. In the process, they also found that children across the U.S., regardless of background, are performing at critically low levels on fourth grade reading and math assessments. Proposed policy reforms are outlined, including investing in the nation's children by increasing their access to high quality pre-kindergarten and health care.

Note: This is the first report to discuss child well-being across White, Hispanic, Black, and Asian race-ethnic groups, while also considering the possible effect of parents' status as immigrants or non-immigrants.

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Tags: Language Proficiency; Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA; Reading; Rights, Parents; Rights, Students; Struggling Readers;

Target Population: Hispanic, Asian, black, and white children from immigrant and non-immigrant families

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • Considering health, economic, social, and educational factors, what is known about the well-being of children in the United States?
  • How does this vary according to race/ethnicity and immigration status?
  • What federal reforms should be made to improve the lives of these children?


  1. While one fourth of the nation's children have parents who are immigrants, 89% of these children are American citizens.
  2. Children of immigrants are just as likely to have a parent with stable employment and more likely (than those with U.S.-born parents) to live in a two-parent family, have been born at a healthy weight, and survive their first year of life. At the same time, they are less likely to attend pre-kindergarten and have health insurance.
  3. At 19% and 15%, respectively, Hispanic and black children with immigrant parents are far less likely to have health insurance. Additionally, they have the highest child mortality rate and are more likely than their Asian and white counterparts to live in poverty and/or have an unemployed parent.
  4. Only half of eligible children nationwide were enrolled in a pre-kindergarten program. Those with U.S.-born parents were more likely to attend, and Hispanic children from immigrant families were the least likely to be enrolled.
  5. In households where the primary language was not English, 83% of both black and Hispanic fourth graders could not read proficiently. For white children in this category, 65% scored below proficient in reading, as did 51% Asian children, even in English-speaking households. In math, 35-84% of fourth graders in all racial/ethnic groups were below proficient.

Policy Recommendations:

  1. Expand access to high-quality early childhood education. Establish a cohesive curriculum spanning pre-kindergarten to third grade to develop children's literacy skills before the fourth grade.
  2. At the federal and state level, ensure that all children, including the roughly one million who are undocumented, are covered by health insurance.
  3. Maintain and strengthen economic and social services such as tax provisions and credits, temporary assistance, and nutrition programs  for immigrant as well as low-income non-immigrant families.
  4. Fund English literacy programs for immigrant parents to allow them to pursue employment opportunities and communicate with classroom teachers about their child's progress and needs.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Foundation for Child Development 295 Madison Avenue, 40th floor New York, NY 10017 Phone: (212) 867-5777 Fax: (212) 867-5844

Hernandez, D. & Napierala, J.S.(2013). Diverse children: Race, ethnicity, and immigration in America's new non-majority generation. New York, NY: The Foundation for Child Development.

Ensuring Academic Success for English Learners

Author: Laurie Olson, UC Linguistic Minority Research Institute

Summary: This report highlights nine elements of a strong academic program for ELLs based on three decades of research. Recommended best practices include accessible preschool programs, support for newcomers of all ages, and a focus on English language development.

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Tags: Books and Other Reading Materials; Curriculum; Differentiated Instruction; Intervention; Language Proficiency; Motivation; Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA; Reading;

Target Population: Preschool, Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What strategies or programs can educators adopt to create schools in which ELLs learn and thrive?

A comprehensive system of schooling for ELLS includes the following nine elements:

  • High quality and accessible preschool education
  • Supports for newcomers to meet needs of transition
  • A comprehensive program of English Language development
  • A program providing full access to challenging curriculum
  • High quality instruction and materials
  • Inclusive and affirming school climate
  • Valid, comprehensive, and useful assessments
  • Strong family and community partnerships
  • Schools structured to meet the particular needs of English learners.

Policy Recommendations:
Recommendations include:

  • Invest in building a qualified educator workforce;
  • Build a meaningful accountability system for English learners;
  • Assure that educators have the materials they need to deliver high quality English Language Development;
  • Demonstrate new models of successful schools for English learners

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:

University of California

Linguistic Minority Research Institute

4722 South Hall

Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3220

Olsen, L. (2006). Ensuring Academic Success for English Learners. University of California: Linguistic Minority Research Institute.

Every Child Every Promise: Turning Failure Into Action

Author: America's Promise Alliance

Summary: Instead of focusing on statistics that suggest the symptoms of a larger problem, this report sheds new light on root causes. Every Child, Every Promise: Turning Failure Into Action reveals how our nation is dangerously under–equipping the majority of our children and youth for the future, especially those who are disadvantaged. It probes the causes of this failure—what lies behind the troubling statistics. This report is the first that attempts to measure comprehensively the presence in the lives of our young people of the five key resources—the "Five Promises"—that correlate with success in both youth and adulthood: (1) Caring adults; (2) Safe places and constructive use of time; (3) Healthy start and healthy development; (4) Effective education for marketable skills and lifelong learning; and (5) Opportunities to make a difference through helping others.

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

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • In what ways and to what extent are today's children underserved by parents and adults in general?
  • What are the essential resources children require that will assure their success in the future?
  • How can parents and communities work to provide these resources to all children?


  • Children who enjoy the sustained and cumulative benefit of having at least four of the Five Promises across various contexts of their lives are much more likely to be academically successful, civically engaged and socially competent, regardless of their race or family income.
  • Having enough of the Five Promises helps to mitigate the disparities among our nation's young people, for instance those based on race/ ethnicity or family income. Though access to these resources remains deeply unequal in America, their presence in critical mass can be a great equalizer. Regardless of race, gender or family income level, children who enjoy at least four of these five core resources are more likely to thrive.
  • Only 31% of young people today are receiving enough of the developmental resources that will give them genuine reason for confidence about their success as adults.
  • 21% —or over 10 million 6–to–17–year&ndash'olds— have a very low chance of success.
  • The stereotype of children and teens as slackers with a weak work ethic is a myth. Young people are looking for more help from adults, but not a handout. They are willing to work hard to reach their goals.
  • The greatest returns to society result from a balanced investment strategy throughout childhood, not just in early childhood. The biggest economic benefits result from targeting interventions toward underserved youth. These returns take the form of increased high school graduation rates and college enrollment, reduced involvement with the criminal justice system and reduced welfare dependency, which in turn provide direct and indirect economic benefits to our nation.
  • Some of the areas that access to the 5 Promises positively effects are: overall health, grade and school attendance, drug use, social competence, school dropout rates, crime.

Policy Recommendations:

  • The bottom–line implication from this research is clear: For maximum return, start investing in young people at an early age—and don't stop.
  • Consider the "Whole Child" ie educational reforms should go beyond the school.
  • Engage all sectors of society.
  • View investments as more than programs—without minimizing their role: Cost–effective, targeted programs may offer the best strategy for mitigating the risk factors otherwise working against children placed at major disadvantages.
  • Focus attention on the young people who are most underserved.

"Every Child Every Promise: Turning Failure Into Action." Washington, DC: America's Promise Alliance. Retrieved from

Foster Care at a Cultural Crossroads: Refugee Children in the Public Foster Care System

Author: Polk, C. & Schmidt, S. BRYCS/Polk Editorial Service.


In an effort to develop ideas for supporting refugee children in public foster care, the BRYCS project convened a Roundtable meeting July 20-22, 2003, in Washington, DC. The meeting brought together representatives of refugee communities, refugee-serving agencies, and the foster care system. The first national gathering of its kind, the Roundtable exposed national leaders in child welfare to the concerns of refugee community members and service providers and gave refugee community leaders tools and strategies for working with their local welfare systems.

The idea for the Roundtable grew out of two BRYCS projects: (1) work in two cities where BRYCS piloted a cross-service training methodology for public child welfare staff and refugee-serving agencies and (2) discussions about promising practices with existing federally funded refugee foster care programs. In addition, BRYCS has conducted an analysis of federal and state laws and regulations, as well as accreditation standards, which are relevant to refugee child welfare. As a result of these projects, BRYCS staff saw the need to bring together ethnic leaders and representatives from public and national child welfare organizations in order to:

  • Educate each other on existing needs and services.
  • Brainstorm new ways to be of assistance to one another in order to be better resources to refugee children in public foster care.
  • Generate future action on the local level.

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Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: How can national leaders help the refugee community with their local welfare systems?


Roundtable participants divided into two breakout sessions, one focused on understanding the refugee experience through the eyes of the child, and the other on understanding foster care. Agencies planning a minority recruitment program should consider the following five ideas: (1)Effective recruitment requires a long-term investment and patience. (2)Effective practice is built on valid and accurate data. (3)Effective recruitment if consistent. (4)Effective recruitment must be focused. (5)It is important to track the costs of recruitment. The following people discussed their ideas and practices:

  • The Coordinator, Trafficked Children Initiative: Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
  • The Project Director: Immigrants and Child Welfare Project.
  • The Child Welfare Policy and Program Coordinator: Coalition for Asian American Children and Families.
  • The Bilingual/Bicultural Advocate: Refugee Women's Advocate.
  • The Division Director: CLINIC.

Policy Recommendations:

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
BRYCS - Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 3211 Fourth Street NE Washington, DC 20017

Polk, C. & Schmidt, S. (2003). BRYCS/Polk Editorial Services. Foster Care at a Cultural Crossroads: Refugee Children in the Public Foster Care System.

Latino Males: Improving College Access and Degree Completion — A New National Imperative

Summary: Although the number of Latino students enrolled in two- and four-year colleges across the U.S. has increased in recent years, Latino male enrollment rates, which is eclipsed by that of Latina students, are still the lowest of any all racial/ethnic groups. This study proposes a national effort to increase the likelihood of high school and college success for Latinos, and investigated probable causes of the discrepancy between academic performance and engagement between Latino male students as compared to Latinas and other subgroups.

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Target Population: High School, Post Secondary

Research Questions the Report Poses: What factors contribute to lower rates of college achievement among Latino males in the U.S.?


  • Past studies reveal that, on average, Latino high school students are less likely than their peers to graduate from high school or college, and more likely to forgo college entirely.
  • Similarly, the number of Latinas who earned a bachelor's degree or higher increased in recent years (from roughly 8 to 15%), compared to a minor rise for Latino males (about 10 to 13%).
  • This disparity in enrollment begins as early as preschool. In 2009, nearly 45% of Latinas under age five attended school either part- or full-time, compared to just under 40% of same-age Latino males.
  • In qualitative case studies in Texas and Florida, researchers interviewed K-12 and post-secondary administrators and Latino college students to examine the reasons Latino males may not continue on to college. Results indicated that these students were: a) less likely to seek academic support due to cultural and societal norms that may discourage Latino men from doing so, b) conflicted about attending college because of the potential need to contribute to family income and a notion of familismo, or strong family loyalty, and c) not sufficiently recruited or supported by school and community programs.

Policy Recommendations:

The researchers advocate the following policy changes:

  • Developing mandatory academic advising for Latino students identified as at risk of school failure, and provide adequate information about college funding options.
  • Hiring Latino faculty and staff who can act as mentors, and fostering peer-to-peer mentoring betwen first generation and academically engaged Latino students.
  • Enhancing accuracy and efficiency of data collection methods for this population that incorporates both quantitative (statistical) and qualitative (interviews, focus groups) measures, paying particular attention to transitional points in K-12 and college education.
  • Expanding community outreach efforts to reach out to college-age Latino males and improve their likelihood of college and career success.

Sáenz, V.B. & Ponjuán, L. (2012). Latino males: Improving college access and degree completion — a new national imperative. San Antonio, Texas: AAHHE, ETS & UTSA.

Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children's Learning

Author: McCombs, J.S., Augustine, C.H., Schwartz, H.L., Bodilly, S.J., McInnis, B., Lichter, D.S. and Cross, A.B. RAND Corporation

Summary: Despite long–term and ongoing efforts to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged and advantaged students, low–income students continue to perform at considerably lower levels than their higher–income peers in reading and mathematics. Research has shown that students' skills and knowledge often deteriorate during the summer months, with low–income students facing the largest losses. Instruction during the summer has the potential to stop these losses and propel students toward higher achievement. A review of the literature on summer learning loss and summer learning programs, coupled with data from ongoing programs offered by districts and private providers across the United States, demonstrates the potential of summer programs to improve achievement as well as the challenges in creating and maintaining such programs. School districts and summer programming providers can benefit from the existing research and lessons learned by other programs in terms of developing strategies to maximize program effectiveness and quality, student participation, and strategic partnerships and funding. Recommendations for providers and policymakers address ways to mitigate barriers by capitalizing on a range of funding sources, engaging in long–term planning to ensure adequate attendance and hiring, and demonstrating positive student outcomes.

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Tags: Curriculum; Intervention;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • What is the nature of summer learning loss?
  • Are summer learning programs effective in improving student achievement?
  • What are the elements of effective summer programs?
  • How much do summer learning programs cost?
  • What are the facilitators and challenges to implementing summer programs?


  • Summer learning loss, which is disproportionate and cumulative, contributes substantially to the achievement gap.
  • Students who attend summer programs have better outcomes than similar peers who do not attend these programs.
  • Strategies for maximizing quality, enrollment, and attendance to achieving benefits.
  • Cost is the main barrier to implementing summer learning programs.
  • Districts question the cost–effectiveness of summer learning programs, and many have discontinued them in response to budget cuts.
  • Partnerships can strengthen summer learning programs.
  • Developing and sustaining district-based voluntary summer learning programs is challenging but feasible.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Invest in highly qualified staff and early planning.
  • Embed promising practices into summer learning programs (such as smaller class sizes, involving parents, individualized instruction, maximizing attendance, aligning school and summer curricula, etc)
  • Consider partnerships when developing summer learning programs.
  • Think creatively about funding.
  • Extend the research base: (study multiple outcomes beyond academic performance, cost-effectiveness, how to attract consecutive attendees, etc)
  • Support consistent funding sources for summer learning programs.
  • Provide clear guidance regarding the use of scarce funds.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
To order RAND documents or to obtain additional information, contact Distribution Services: Telephone: (310) 451.7002; Fax: (310) 451.6915; Email:

McCombs, J.S., Augustine, C.H., Schwartz, H.L., Bodilly, S.J., McInnis, B., Lichter, D.S. and Cross, A.B. (2011) Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children's Learning. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Retrieved from

One Minneapolis: Community Indicators Report

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


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?

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:

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

Reviving Magnet Schools: Strengthening a Successful Choice Option

Author: Frankenberg, E. & Siegel-Hawley, G. The Civil Rights Project/ Proyecto Derechos Civiles.


The following policy brief refocuses our attention on the more longstanding magnet sector. Data from a 2011 survey of magnet school leaders indicates that magnet schools are continuing to evolve. Significant differences emerged between the two most recent magnet-funding cycles, the first overseen by the Bush Administration (in the midst of the Parents Involved decision) and the second by Obama's Department of Education. Respondents connected to the 2010-2013 funding cycle indicated that their magnet programs were associated with more inclusive admissions processes, a resurgence of interest in pursuing racially diverse enrollments and an increased willingness to allow out-of-district students to attend magnet programs. Respondents from all federal funding cycles reported that their magnet schools were linked to evidence of heightened academic achievement, very high levels of demand and self-sustaining programs (i.e. the magnet school or program continued to flourish after the funding cycle ended).

While the respondent pool was not large, and though federally funded magnets are simply a subset of all magnet programs, the data highlight early signs of what may be an important shift towards the original goals of the magnet concept. Survey participants also underscored the ongoing popularity and success of their magnet programs. More research is, of course, needed, but all of these trends indicate that it is important to continue to provide support for the magnet school sector, and to include equalizing federal funding for magnet and charter school programs as part of a federal policy agenda focused on innovation and equity.

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Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: Will Magnet Schools make a comeback?


  • More than 80% of respondents indicated that magnet school student achievement rose in the years following the receipt of federal dollars.
  • More than 95% of all magnet school grant awardees said that federal funding was used to offer unique curricula or teaching methods previously not available, to provide professional development for faculty and staff, and to purchase equipment to upgrade learning technology. In other words, federal funding provides essential support for magnet school development.
  • According to all survey participants, nearly three-quarters (72.5%) of the federally-funded magnet schools were oversubscribed, indicating that there was more demand than available seats at magnet schools.
  • Approximately 66% of all survey participants reported that students from other districts were allowed to attend magnet programs, an important finding given that most contemporary segregation occurs between different school districts, rather than within the same district.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Given what respondents describe as very important uses for federal MSAP funds, more fiscal support is needed to expand and sustain the magnet sector.
  • Given the positive characteristics linked to magnets in this report, as well as others (see, e.g. Betts, 2006; Cobb, Bifulco & Bell, 2009; Gamoran, 1995; Silver & Saunders, 2008), school turnaround strategies promoted by the Obama Administration should absolutely include conversion to a magnet program.
  • Federal support for further research is sorely needed. New studies should begin to unpack a contemporary definition for magnet schools, explore the types of districts in which magnets operate (and where they might expand), and provide a detailed analysis of the financial assistance needed to start up successful magnet program(s), among other potential topics.
  • Findings from this survey indicated that the design and description of MSAP grant opportunities can significantly influence the characteristics of magnet schools. Future grant cycle notifications should sustain the emphasis on reducing racial isolation.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies 8370 Math Sciences, Box 951521 Los Angeles, CA 90095-1521

Frankenberg, E. & Siegel-Hawley, G. (2012). Reviving Magnet Schools: Strengthening a Successful Choice Option. The Civil Rights Project/ Proyecto Derechos Civiles.

Similar English Learner Students, Different Results: Why Do Some Schools Do Better?

Author: EdSource, Stanford University, American Institutes for Research, WestEd


A major new analysis of California elementary school performance has identified four educational practices associated with higher performance among elementary English Learner (EL) students. According to the study released in May at the Education Writers Association annual meeting in Los Angeles, schools that engage in all four practices have, on average, the highest academic achievement among English Learner students.

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Tags: Curriculum; Instructional Programs; Language Proficiency; Latino ELL Students;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: "Why do California elementary schools serving similar proportions of low-income, Spanish speaking EL students differ by over 250 points on California's new EL Academic Performance Index score? What school practices can help explain this API gap?"


  • One practice strongly correlated with a higher EL-API among our sample of elementary schools was the extensive use of student assessment data by the district and the principal in an effort to improve instruction and student learning.
  • EL-API performance was higher in schools where principals reported that a larger proportion of their teaching staff had qualities such as a demonstrated ability to raise student achievement, strong content knowledge, and others.
  • Higher EL-API was correlated with schools in which teachers reported most strongly that there is school-wide instructional consistency within grades, curricular alignment from grade-to-grade, and that instruction is based upon state academic standards.
  • A shared culture within the school regarding the value of improving student achievement and a sense of shared responsibility for it seems to distinguish the higher performing schools in our sample based on EL—APIs.
  • A school's outreach to parents, encouragement of teacher collaboration, and enforcement of positive student behaviors (like attendance and tolerance) have long been recognized as important contributors to the student and professional culture at a school.

Policy Recommendations:

  • California should "stay the course with its reforms" to make sure that "curriculum programs and state standards tests are well aligned with the state's academic standards."
  • School districts need to provide "better assessment and other data on their students in easy-to-access formats"
  • Hire more administrators to try to adjust the highest-in-the-nation pupil-to-administrator ratio in the country
  • Professional development needs to provided to ensure that teachers have the resources they need to effectively combat the challenges that educating ELL students provides

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:

Williams, T., Hakuta, K., Haertel, E., et al. (2007). Similar English Learner Students, Different Results: Why Do Some Schools Do Better? A follow-up analysis, based on a large-scale survey of California elementary schools serving low-income and EL students. Mountain View, CA: EdSource.

Succeeding With English Language Learners: Lessons Learned from the Great City Schools

Author: The Council of the Great City Schools Authors: Amanda Rose Horwitz; Gabriela Uro; Ricki Price-Baugh; Candace Simon; Renata Uzzell; Sharon Lewis; Michael Casserly

Summary: This study examines district-level ELL policies and practices as well as the historical, administrative, and programmatic contexts of four school systems with ELL student achievement growth between 2002 and 2006. This growth is contrasted with two districts with minimal growth in ELL achievement. The authors' exploration of instructional reform strategies sheds light on the experiences of large urban districts and highlights specific strategies for reform while underscoring the differences between the districts with improvements for ELL students and those without.

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Tags: Language Proficiency;

Target Population: K-12 Urban Districts

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • Can we identify school districts that have experienced improved student achievement among ELLs?
  • What is the historical, administrative, and programmatic context within which ELL student achievement is improving in these districts?
  • What district-level strategies are being used to improve ELL student achievement and reduce disparities between ELL and non-ELLs?
  • What is the connection between policies, practices, and strategies at the district level and actual changes in teaching and learning experienced by ELLs in their schools and classrooms?
  • In what ways do the experiences and strategies of improving districts differ from those of school systems that serve similar populations, but that have yet to make similar progress?


Contextual Features

  • Shared Vision for Reform
  • Leadership and Advocacy on Behalf of ELLs
  • Empowerment of the ELL Office
  • External Forces as Catalyst for Reforms

Promising Practices

  • Comprehensive Planning and Adoption of Language Development Strategies for ELLs
  • Extensive and Continuous Support for Implementation
  • A Culture of Collaboration and Shared Accountability
  • Hybrid Models of Instructional Management and Local Empowerment
  • Strategic School Staffing
  • High Quality, Relevant Professional Development
  • The Use of Student Data
  • Reallocation and Strategic Use of ELL Funds

Limiting Factors

  • No Coherent Vision or Strategy for the Instruction of ELLs System-wide
  • Site-Based Management without Support, Oversight, or Explicit Accountability for Student Progress
  • Lack of Access to the General Curriculum
  • No Systematic Use of Disaggregated Student Data
  • Inconsistent Leadership
  • No Systemic Efforts to Build ELL Staff Capacity
  • Compartmentalization of ELL Departments and Staff
  • The ELL Office Lacked Capacity and Authority

Policy Recommendations:

Contextual Recommendations

  • Develop clear instructional vision and high expectations for ELLs
  • Approach external pressure to improve services for ELLs and other students as an asset rather than a liability
  • Incorporate accountability for ELLs organizationally into the broader instructional operation of the school district
  • Empower strong ELL program administrators to oversee progress
  • Pursue community support for initiatives designed to accelerate achievement among English language learners

Strategic and Instructional Recommendations

  • Review general education and ELL programs to ensure that there is an explicit focus on building academic literacy and cultivating English language development
  • Ensure that all teachers of ELLs have access to high quality professional development that provides differentiated instructional strategies, promotes the effective use of student assessment data, and develops skills for supporting second-language acquisition across the curriculum
  • Assess district standards for hiring, placing, and retaining teachers, paraprofessionals, and staff members who work directly with ELLs to ensure that these students have access to highly qualified personnel
  • Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the level of access that ELLs have to the entire spectrum of district course offerings, including gifted and talented programs and special education
  • Ensure that resources generated by and allocated for English language learners are properly and effectively expended to provide quality ELL instruction and services
  • Develop a system for tracking multiple measures of ELLs' educational progress

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
The Council of the Great City Schools 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Suite 702 Washington, DC 20004 202-393-2427 202-393-2400 (fax)

Horowitz, A.R., et al. (2009). Succeeding with English Language Learners: Lessons learned from the Great City Schools. Washington, D.C.: The Council of the Great City Schools.