Colorin Colorado: Helping children read... and succeed!
A bilingual site for families and educators of English language learners
  • small text
  • medium text
  • large text
  • print
Research & Reports

Best Teaching Practices

A Cognitive Strategies Approach to Reading and Writing Instruction for English Language Learners in Secondary School

Summary: Cognitive strategies, such as predicting, summarizing, and reflecting — strategies used by experienced readers and writers — are vital to the development of academic literacy, but these strategies are too rarely taught explicitly, especially to English Language Learners (ELLs). This study reports the results of a California Writing Project study in which 55 teachers implemented a cognitive-strategies approach to reading and writing instruction for their ELL secondary students over an eight-year period and includes a detailed description of a teacher's cognitive strategies "tool kit."

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Comprehension; Curriculum; Instructional Programs; Intervention; Motivation; Reading; Writing;

Copyright 2007 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Used with permission. Olson, C.B. and Land, R. (2007). A Cognitive Strategies Approach to Reading and Writing Instruction for English Language Learners in Secondary School. Research in the Teaching of English, 41(3), http://www.ncte.org/pubs/journals/rte/articles/126617.htm.

Benchmarking the Success of Latina and Latino Students in STEM to Achieve National Graduation Goals

Author: Dowd, A.C., Malcolm, L.E., Bensimon, E.M Center for Urban Education

Summary: “This report identifies 25 Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) in five states as potential exemplars of effective practices for increasing the number of Latina and Latino bachelor’s degree holders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).” It analyzes these institutions in order to better understand the representation of Latinos in STEM majors and careers.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Instructional Programs; Intervention; Latino ELL Students; Motivation;

Target Population: Post-Secondary

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are ways to increase the number of Latino STEM graduates?

Findings:

  • The U.S. Department of Education reports that nearly 60% of Latinos in the American higher education system are enrolled in a community college. Of these students, 56% attend Hispanic-serving community colleges.
  • Recent data from NSF shows that nearly 44% of all STEM B.S. degree holders attend community college at some point in their career.

Dowd, A.C., Malcom, L.E., & Bensimon, E.M. (2009). Benchmarking the success of Latino and Latina students in STEM to achieve national graduation goals. Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California.

Best Practices for Adolescent ELLs

Author: Judith Rance-Roney

Summary: This report discusses the diversity that is so characteristic of the adolescent ELL population and presents "promising principles and practices" that support effective instruction.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Curriculum; Differentiated Instruction; Instructional Programs; Intervention; Placement;

Target Population: High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: Which practices best support effective instruction of adolescent ELLs?

Findings:
A number of principles and practices support improved achievement for adolescent ELLs as well as for their native-English-speaking peers:

  • A schoolwide, team-based support network: all school educators must assume shared responsibility for the achievement of ELLs
  • A dual curriculum that promotes the language development of ELLs as well as their general academic needs
  • Global community classrooms that find a middle ground between integrating ELLs who are recent immigrants with the general school population and segregating them in self-contained classrooms or schools
  • Extended time to learn: all available time in ELLs' school day should be used for effective instruction-including the idea of implementing flexible student pathwasy
  • Individual progress records: maintenance of records of individual ELLs' linguistic and academic history and ongoing progress, with easy availability teachers and other key personnel

Rance-Roney, J. (2009, April). “Best Practices for Adolescent ELLs.” Educational Leadership. 66(7). 32-37.

Bridging the Gaps to Success: Promising Practices for Promoting Transfer Among Low-Income and First-Generation Students

Author: Smith, C.T., Miller, A., & Bermeo, C.A. The Pell Institute

Summary: With Obama’s goal of all Americans having completed high school and one year of post-secondary education by 2020 there is increased pressure on community colleges. It is vital that community colleges increase their retention and preparation of students so they can successfully transfer to a 4 year institution. This report analyzes 6 Texas schools with high transfer rates in order to better understand “the institutional characteristics, practices, and policies that might contribute to assuring that students matriculate and excel in community college and transfer to four-year institutions.”

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Intervention; Motivation; Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA; Transfer of Literacy Skills;

Target Population: Post-secondary

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the promising practices for transferring students from two-year to four-year institutions?

Findings:
A Structured Academic Pathway:

  • Institutional Articulation Agreements
  • Dual Enrollment
  • Developmental coursework initiatives
  • Active learning
A Student-Centered Culture:
  • Customer service forums
  • Trio Student Support Services (SSS)
  • Specialized advising
  • Flexible scheduling
  • First-year Seminar
  • Learning communities
  • Student engagement in campus life
A Culturally-sensitive Leadership:
  • Staff and faculty role modeling
  • Strategic planning
  • Outreach

Smith, C.T., Miller, A., & Bermeo, C.A. (2009). Bridging the Gaps to Success-Promising Practices for Promoting Transfer Among Low-Income and First-Generation Students. The Pell Institute. Retrieved January 10, 2011 from: http://www.pellinstitute.org/pdf/COE_Pell_Report_layout_3.pdf

Building Tomorrow's Workforce: Promoting the Education & Advancement of Hispanic Immigrant Workers in America

Author: Gershwin, M., Coxen, T., Kelley, B., & Yakimov. G. Corporation for a Skilled Workforce

Summary: With an ever increasing number of immigrant workers, mostly from Latin America, entering the country there is concern about many being under-qualified and lacking credentials. However, despite these odds and other obstacles (such as language barriers, lack of educational experience) many are making their way into college and other post-secondary programs. This report analyzes the “new and innovative partnerships among employers, community colleges, and community organizations” that allowing these immigrants to become better educated and better skilled so they can get new jobs.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Intervention; Motivation; Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA;

Target Population: Post-secondary

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the ways immigrant workers educate themselves/get themselves to college/post-secondary opportunities?

Findings:

  • A clear pathway to employment and/or job advancement is a critical part of the process;
  • Employer investments are essential, although they may take different forms;
  • Community college innovation is important, but "reinventing" the college is not required;
  • Community partnerships are necessary to expand the boundaries of the program, a key element for recruitment and retention; and
  • A clear and focused commitment to harness the potential of working Hispanic immigrants is required.

Gershwin, M., Coxen, T., Kelley, B., & Yakimov. G. (2007, March). Building Tomorrow’s Workforce: Promoting the Education & Advancement of Hispanic Immigrant Workers in America. Corporation for a Skilled Workforce. Retrieved January, 4, 2011 from: http://www.skilledwork.org/sites/default/files/Lumina_Jan809.pdf

Divided We Fail: Improving Completion and Closing Racial Gaps in California’s Community Colleges

Author: Colleen Moore, Nancy Shulock; Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy.

Summary: The report discusses extensive data about community college attendance and completion in California It notes certain patterns, specifically which ones reveal positive practices or setbacks that need to be overcome.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

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

Target Population: Post-Secondary

Research Questions the Report Poses: How can data be used to determine ways to improve students’ success in community colleges in California?

Findings:

  • Students who followed certain enrollment patterns did much better (i.e. earning at least 20 credits within the first year.) Unfortunately few students followed those patterns; therefore efforts should be made to encourage those habits/trends.
  • There are bleak disparities between races/ethnicities (i.e., even lower success rate among blacks and Latinos) and given demographics trends (i.e., increase in Latinos) solving this problem is critical for our nation.
  • Too many students fail to attain their 2-year degree. (After 6 years of enrollment 70% of students-80% of Latinos had not finished, and only 15% were still enrolled.)
  • Transfer success is low. (Only 23% ultimately transferred to a 4-year university; and of Latinos specifically only 14%).
  • Completion rates and levels of disparity vary widely across comparable colleges; therefore some colleges do actually find ways to promote completion, while others are lacking.
  • For-profit sector's role is growing. (More students are transferring into for-profit sector.)

Policy Recommendations:

  • Collect data and act upon it.
  • Create a public agenda for higher education.
  • Develop a reward system for student success.
  • Maintain transfer function of community colleges so successful students will continue on to a state university.

Moore, C. & Shulock, N. (2010). Divided We Fail: Improving Completion and Closing Racial Gaps in California’s Community Colleges. Sacramento, CA: California State University’s Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy.

Early Childhood and Family Investment Transition Report

Author: Curtis, P. & Saxton, L. The Science of Early Childhood Development: Closing the Gap Between What We Know and What We Do. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

Summary:

This report represent bold and innovative changes necessary to reverse this trend. The recommendations include significant changes in the ways in which we identify, deliver, and fund services so that a more efficient, accountable approach is used which delivers measurable results. It recommends focusing on the delivery of services by streamlining our multiple attempts at coordination and making our multiple administrations and governance structures more efficient and accountable. In the spirit of accountability, the Early Childhood and Family Investment Team believes the recommendations contained in this report should be measured for success.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Target Population: K-12

Research Questions the Report Poses: Will Oregon's opportunity for distinction and success in the global economy of the 21st Century work? How so?

Findings:

  • Currently, approximately 40,000 children 0-5 years receive primary and secondary early childhood services. Yet, approximately 108,000 are estimated to need support. Within two years, at least fifty percent more, or 60,000 children, should be served.
  • The average cost per child served should be reduced by 30% to be approximately $5225 per child per year.
  • It is estimated that between 25-33% of at risk children will meet state reading benchmarks when they are revised in two years. By 2018, at least 70% of children served with these re-engineered services should meet state benchmarks for kindergarten and first grade.

Policy Recommendations:
N/A

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

Curtis, P. & Saxton, L. (2011). Early Childhood and Family Investment Transition Report The Science of Early Childhood Development: Closing the Gap Between What We Know and What We Do , Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

Educating English Language Learners: Building Teacher Capacity

Author: Keira Gebbie Ballantyne, Alicia R. Sanderman, Jack Levy; National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition

Summary: The report is divided into 3 sections. The first discusses national data and demographics of both ELLs and teachers, such as English proficiency and test scores, and levels of professional development (respectively). The second section explains the 6 standards for ELLs propounded by the National Staff Development Council, which serve as guidelines for programs. The third section offers practical applications of standards and suggestions for use in the classroom, both generally and specifically (organized by content areas: English language arts, social studies, science, and math).

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Curriculum;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What qualities should administrators and principals incorporate into their ELL teacher development programs? What strategies can ELL teachers themselves use in the classroom?

Findings:

  • o Professional development of teachers and staff is crucial in teaching ELLs successfully.
  • o Development/training should be based on data and research and ongoing; should involve collaboration; and should foster diversity and cross-cultural learning.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition. 2121 K St NW Suite 260. Washington, DC

Ballantyne, K.G., Sanderman A.R., Levy, J. (2008). Education English language learners: Building teacher Capacity. Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition.

Educating Language Learners: Getting at the Content

Author: Yu Ren Dong; ASCD

Summary: In this excerpt from Educational Leadership, Yu Ren Dong proposes that by teaching language learning strategies, content area teachers can accelerate content mastery for their English language learners. Dong recommends actively teaching content-specific language while providing ample opportunities for students to use that language both in meaningful class discussion and in writing. The article includes vignettes from science and social studies classrooms that demonstrate how language instruction can be interwoven with content instruction.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Comprehension; Content Areas: Science; Content Areas: Social Studies; Curriculum; Differentiated Instruction; Vocabulary;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: How can teachers integrate language and content in mainstream subject-matter classes to facilitate English language acquisition?

Findings:
Our mainstream subject-matter classes are becoming increasingly linguistically and culturally diverse. It is imperative that subject-matter teachers sensitize their instruction to English language learners' backgrounds and needs and teach subject-matter knowledge through language.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Subject-matter teachers should systematically teach discipline-specific language. They should also pay attention to the functional use of language in classroom discussions.
  • Teachers should use writing as a tool to promote language development by aligning writing assignments with language-development needs.
  • Teachers also need to be aware of students' English proficiency levels and cultural and education backgrounds so they can tailor their instruction to specific language needs.

Dong, Y.R. (2005). Educating language learners: getting at the content. Educational Leadership, 62(4), Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec04/vol62/num04/Getting-at-the-Content.aspx

Educating Struggling Learners: Reflections on Lessons Learned about Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

Author: Kurizaki, V. University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Summary:

Presented here is a first person account of the opportunities and challenges of the pathways to success from the front lines of inclusive reform. In this paper, the author reviews the work that the Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) completed in developing progress maps. This work demonstrated avenues or routes that students took to access the content of mathematics and reading. She then reflects on the activity of the GSEG-funded project, offering a personal perspective on the formal research findings documented by Karin Hess (2011). Finally, she offers her reflections on the local implementation of the project products and processes, as well as lessons that we learned throughout the project.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: How can educators improve the learning skills of struggling readers?

Findings:

  • To ensure that the curriculum is taught as it was intended in the classroom, teachers need to have a deep understanding of that content. They also need a repertoire of instructional strategies to respond to student work used to judge learners' progress.
  • Instructional adjustments or accommodations, tailored to their learners, are possible when teachers are clear on the learning targets and have a sound understanding about how their students learn and show progress over time.
  • State test results showed grade 8 students were flat-lined, averaging 36% of the disadvantaged students scoring proficient on the state test over six school years. After one year of engaging in a self-reflection protocol and process in addition to collaborative PLCs, there was a rise to 47% of this subgroup scoring at the proficient level.
  • However, opportunities for teachers to reflect on their own instructional practices, committing to trying new strategies, followed by more self- and collaborated-reflections on the effects on students, seem to be one of the biggest benefits of the various PLC discussions.
    • Policy Recommendations:
      N/A

      To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
      National Center on Educational Outcomes University of Minnesota • 207 Pattee Hall 150 Pillsbury Dr. SE • Minneapolis, MN 55455

      Kurizaki, V. (2011). Educating struggling learners: Reflections on lessons learned about curriculum, instruction, and assessment (Synthesis Report 86).University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Effective Instruction for English Learners

Author: Margarita Calderon, Robert Slavin, Marta Sanchez. The Future of Children. Princeton University. The Brookings Institute.

Summary: Margarita Calderon, Robert Slavin, and Marta Sanchez identify the elements of effective ELL instruction and review a variety of successful program models, including bilingual versus English–only versus ESL instruction. They highlight comprehensive reform models, as well as individual components of these models: school structures and leadership; language and literacy instruction; integration of language, literacy, and content instruction in secondary schools; cooperative learning; professional development; parent and family support teams; tutoring; and monitoring implementation and outcomes. As larger numbers of English learners reach America's schools, K–12 general education teachers are discovering the need to learn how to teach these students.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Differentiated Instruction; Intervention; Placement;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: Regardless of language of instruction, what are the most effective practices for teaching English language learners that will produce the most successful long–term outcomes?

Findings:

  • Within the long–term English learners classification exist other categories of English learners with very different needs: special education students, those incorrectly labeled English proficient, migrants (within the U.S.), transitional students (return to and attend school in native country at least part of the year), recent immigrants (who have experience with core subjects but still need to learn academic English vocabulary and usage), and refugee children (who have never attended school.)
  • Based on recent findings, what matters most in educating English learners is the quality of instruction, not the language. Certain salient features stand out as quality instruction practices: school structures and leadership; language and literacy instruction; integration of language, literacy, and content instruction in secondary schools; cooperative learning; professional development; parent and family support teams; tutoring; and monitoring implementation and outcomes.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Reform and intervention should begin at early grades when children's needs are much more manageable and teachers are imparting new skills rather than remediating gaps.

Calderon, M., Slavin, R., Sanchez, M. (2011). "Effective Instruction for English Learners." Immigrant Children 21 (1). The Future of Children. Retrieved from: http://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=74&articleid=542

Effective Practices for English Language Learners

Author: Rivera, David J. Francis, Magdalena Fernandez, Ani C. Moughamian, Julia Jergensen, Nonie K. Lesaux; Center on Instruction

Summary: The primary focus of the article is to discuss schools that have excelled at teaching their ELLs English and standard academic subjects simultaneously, as measured by ELLs' performance on state assessment of reading and math. The researchers studied 49 "exemplary" schools: their priorities, instructional strategies, obstacles, etc. (To select "exemplary" schools for focus, the researchers studied the 5 states with the highest concentrations of ELLs (CA, FL, MA, TX, NM), found schools with especially high numbers of ELLs and low SES, and then identified those with the largest differences between predicted and actual performance.)

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Curriculum; Instructional Programs;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What methods and programs can teachers and schools best use to help ELLs acquire both the English language and general academic competency simultaneously?

Findings:

  • Some of the most important qualities in the exemplary schools are: explicit instruction, interactive learning environments, collaborative learning for language and reading development, and student engagement via culturally relevant and age-appropriate lessons and materials.
  • The vast majority of schools either officially require teachers be certified in bilingual or ESL, or choose to employ a high number of staff trained in such.
  • Professional development and effective instructional strategies are the two factors considered most important at all age levels (elementary, middle, high school).
  • The greatest reported challenge to teaching ELLs was parent-school connections, such as the language barrier and low parent involvement.

Rivera, M. O., Francis, D. J., Fernandez, M., Moughamian, A. C., Lesaux, N. K., & Jergensen, J. (2010). Effective practices for English language learners. Principals from five states speak. Portsmouth, NH: RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.

Effective Programs for English Language Learners (ELL) with Interrupted Formal Education

Author: Tuchman, O. Office of English Language Learning & Migrant Education, Indiana Department of Education.

Summary: Many immigrant students enter U.S. schools having had little or no prior schooling in their home countries. These children must master grade-level content at the same time that they are learning to speak, read, and write in English. This report discusses effective strategies for teaching ELLs who have not had the benefit of formal education or who have had interrupted formal education. The article includes an overview of recent research in this area, as well as recommended resources.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Differentiated Instruction; Intervention;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle, High School

Findings:

  • While the needs of Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFEs) may overlap with ELLs, SIFEs often need more additional support and remedial instruction than ELLs with a formal educational background.
  • A well-designed program for SIFEs includes thematically organized literacy and content courses; small class size; and opportunities for teacher collaboration across ESL and content areas.
  • After-school and Saturday programs can help students compensate for lost learning time and receive individualized instruction.
  • Best practices for ensuring that SIFEs have access to the full curriculum include sheltered instruction, content-based ESL, standards-based learning, and collaborative learning.

Policy Recommendations:
N/A

Tuchman, O. Office of English Language Learning & Migrant Education, Indiana Department of Education. (2007). Effective Programs for English Language Learners (ELL) with Interrupted Formal Education. Indianapolis, IN: Indiana Department of Education.

Effective Social Studies Instruction to Promote Knowledge Acquisition and Vocabulary Learning of English (Research Brief)

Author: Reutebuch, C.K. CREATE

Summary: Many students learning English as a second language in the United States must study and be tested on grade-level curricula in a language that they are still learning. This is especially taxing for ELLs who are entering U.S. schools at the secondary level because they have less time to meet accountability standards. Researchers with CREATE, based at the Center for Applied Linguistics, share a middle school intervention designed to enhance social studies instruction by incorporating literacy instruction.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Content Areas: Social Studies; Instructional Programs; Language of Instruction; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are effective social studies instruction to promote knowledge acquisition and vocabulary learning of English?

Findings:
The unique learning needs of adolescent English language learners demand that effective second language instruction be embedded in content area classes. This, in turn, requires building secondary educators' knowledge base and capacity to deliver instruction that supports literacy and content learning. Research findings from CREATE thus far indicate that it is possible to improve the quality of social studies instruction to better meet the needs of English language learners and to improve their performance without delaying learning for English-speaking monolingual students, who are often in the same content area courses. Considering the number of readers in upper elementary and middle school classrooms who struggle with academic language and grade-level textbooks, these recommended social studies practices can and should be incorporated into content area teaching. Providing instructional supports that target both content and English language learning objectives in English-only settings makes effective strategy instruction accessible to all students. Class-wide interventions may serve to supplement the skills of many, while possibly preventing the difficulties that arise for some older second language learners and others prone to struggling with content area text and academic and content-specific vocabulary.

Reutebuch, C.K. (2010). Effective Social Studies Instruction to Promote Knowledge Acquisition and Vocabulary Learning of English. CREATE. Retrieved January 14, 2011 from: http://www.cal.org/create/resources/pubs/effective-social-studies-instruction.html

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.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

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?

Findings:
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.

Ensuring Effective Teachers for All Students

Author: Robin Chait, Center for American Progress

Summary: This report analyzes the importance of working with effective teachers in high-poverty or high-minority schools to improve the academic standards of all students. The report also mentions six strategies that states can consider implementing to attract and retain effective teachers in high-poverty and high-minority schools while providing examples of current programs that help states determine how to hire and retain effective educators in their schools.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Instructional Programs;

Target Population: Preschool, Elementary, Middle, High School, and Post-Secondary Schools. Educators and prospective educators.

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • Why should states work to ensure that every student has an effective teacher? What does that mean?
  • What is the federal role in that process?
  • What can the states to work toward ensuring every student has access to an effective teacher?

Findings:

Report authors identify the following strategies for ensuring teacher effectiveness:

  • Analyze and report on the distribution of teachers between schools using value-added estimates and other measures.
  • Design a model evaluation system for measuring teacher effectiveness and improving teacher performance.
  • Support programs that offer financial incentives to effective teachers in high poverty schools.
  • Provide funding and models for recruitment and preparation programs that are specifically targeted to high needs schools.
  • Provide an induction and mentoring program for new teachers in high-poverty schools.
  • Require schools to report their budgets by actual expenditures, rather than positions.

Policy Recommendations:

At the state level, report authors encourage state officials to:

  • identify more stable sources of funding for teacher effectiveness initiatives in the long-term
  • take note of the other states' programs and share ideas
  • monitor the programs currently implemented in each county to ensure the correct distribution of effective teachers.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
John Neurohr, Deputy Press Secretary 202-481-8182, jneurohr@americanprogress.org

Chait, Robin. (2009). Ensuring Effective Teachers for All Students. Washington, D.C. Center for American Progress.

Essential Elements of Effective Science Instruction for English Learners

Author: Fred Dobb, California Science Project.

Summary: This report, written by Fred Dobb and published by the California Science Project, identifies 10 elements crucial to good science instruction for ELLs: academic language through science instruction, affective factors, classroom talk, vocabulary development, the science textbook, science textbook teachers' guides, professional development, the Sheltered Science Instruction Observation Protocol, lesson study, and assessment. Dobb discusses each of these elements is in detail, with a particular eye toward providing practical information that teachers can use to support their ELLs' learning in the science classroom.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Comprehension; Content Areas: Science; Differentiated Instruction; Vocabulary;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the most effective strategies for teaching science to English learners?

Findings:
ELLs need specialized instruction in all content subjects that cater to their language skills.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Develop academic language through scientific instruction and sophisticated vocabulary.
  • The key to building on ELL experiences and leading them to reading and writing about science is engaging them in purposeful guided instructional conversation.
  • Science vocabulary development represents a continuing thread of academic grow for ELLs as they progress in English proficiency.
  • Utilize Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) to teach science, with such strategies as: visual aids, demonstrations, pre-reading activities, graphic organizers, and adaptation of textbooks to make the content comprehensible.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
California Science Project, 3806 Geology Building, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1567. It also can be found online at http://csmp.ucop.edu/csp.

Dobb, Fred. (2004). Essential Elements of Effective Science Instruction for English Learners. 2nd edition. California Science Project: Los Angeles, CA. Retrieved from: http://docushare.ycs.k12.pa.us/docushare/dsweb/GetRendition/Document-7526/html.

Guidelines for the Assessment of English Language Learners

Author: Mary J. Pitoniak, John W. Young, Maria Martiniello, Teresa C. King, Alyssa Buteux, and Mitchell Ginsburgh. Educational Testing Service.

Summary: This report by the Educational Testing Service provides an excellent discussion of a wide range of topics related to assessment for ELLs. The report begins by examining factors that influence ELL assessment, including students' language, educational background, and culture. There is also a discussion of the steps that should go into designing an appropriate assessment, as well as a description of testing accommodations that can help ensure that ELLs are treated equitably and that test results are valid.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Comprehension; Rights, Students;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: How can educators assess students' mastery of subject matter while minimizing the role of the student's English proficiency in its measurement?

Findings:
Considerations important to planning assessments:

  • Test purpose
  • Defining the construct (what is being assessed)
  • Developing the assessment specifications (ie domain of knowledge and skills, number and types of items or tasks, relative weight of tasks and skills, etc)
  • Developing test items and scoring criteria (ie defining expectations
  • The insights external reviewers provide can help test developers understand how students are likely to interpret test materials and how members of different populations may respond to test items, even better than internal reviewers.
  • For ELLs, the primary goal of testing accommodations is to ensure that they have the same opportunity as native English speakers to demonstrate their knowledge or skills in a content area, so unless language proficiency is part of the construct being measured, it should not play a major role in whether an examinee can answer a test item correctly.

Policy Recommendations:

  • In developing assessment specifications, consider domain of knowledge and skills, number and types of items or tasks (offer variety of manners to demonstrate knowledge), relative weight of tasks and skills, assessment and response forms, and cultural background and diversity.
  • In developing test items and scoring criteria:
  • *Match the task to the purpose *Define expectations *Write appropriate directions *Use accessible language *Use clear presentation/formatting
  • Evaluate tasks ahead of time through tryouts
  • Familiarize test scorers with common styles found in ELL-produced answers so they can understand them better and more accurately score their work.
  • To the extent practical, decide on accommodations for individual students, not as a collective group.

Pitoniak, M.J., Young, J.W., Martiniello, M., King, T.C., Buteux, A., and Ginsburgh, M. (2009). Guidelines for the Assessment of English Language Learners. Princeton, New Jersey: Educational Testing Service.

How High Schools Become Exemplary: Ways That Leadership Raises Achievement and Narrows Gaps by Improving Instruction in 15 Public High Schools

Author: Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard University

Summary: The report summarizes the presentations of 15 outstanding high schools that were featured at the fifth annual conference of the AGI at Harvard University. These schools were successful in implementing strategies that significantly reduced the achievement gap by demonstrating significant increases in standardized state exams at their own schools.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Differentiated Instruction; Instructional Programs; Intervention;

Target Population: High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: How do high schools with exemplary achievement growth achieve such results? In particular, how do they improve instruction?

Findings:

  • Accepted their responsibility to lead the change process.
  • Declared the purposes of the work in mission statements that focused on a few key ideas and priorities that stakeholders could understand and embrace.
  • Designed strategies, plans, capacity, and incentives for broadly inclusive adult learning.
  • Developed and refined quality standards for judging teacher and student work.
  • Skillfully and relentlessly implemented plans, monitored quality, and provided appropriate supports and incentives.

How High Schools Become Exemplary: Ways That Leadership Raises Achievement and Narrows Gaps by Improving Instruction in 15 Public High Schools. (2009). Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard University. Retrieved January 6, 2011 from: http://www.agi.harvard.edu/events/2009Conference/2009AGIConferenceReport6-30-2010web.pdf

How Long Does It Take English Language Learners to Attain Proficiency?

Author: University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute/ Kenji Hakuta, Yuko Goto Butler, and Daria Witt

Summary: This report compiles findings related to how long it takes English language learners to become proficient in speaking English and how long it takes them to master enough English to be successful in classrooms where all academic content is in English. The report draws on findings from four schools. Two schools are in the San Francisco Bay area and two schools are in Canada. The authors collect their own data from the California schools and rely on previous research for the Canadian schools.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Comprehension; Language Proficiency; Transfer of Literacy Skills;

Target Population: Preschool, Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: How long does it take English language learners to develop oral proficiency and academic proficiency in English?

Findings:

  • Rapid English language acquisition is unrealistic.
  • The two California districts used in the sample are considered the most successful teaching English to limited English proficient students. In these high performing districts:
    • Oral proficiency takes 3 to 5 years to develop; and
    • Academic English proficiency takes 4 to 7 years to develop

Policy Recommendations:
California should begin a longitudinal survey to track the normative development of ELL students.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
The University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute University of California, Santa Barbara 4722 South Hall, MC 3220 Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3220

Hakuta, K., Butler, Y.G., and Witt, D. (2000, January). How long does it take English language learners to develop oral proficiency and academic proficiency in English? Stanford, CA: University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute.

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 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, over-representation 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.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

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 over-represented 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.

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). The teachers asked themselves was "Why do our students need to pass standardized tests at all?" After much soul searching, they admitted 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. The teachers came up with an approach that they believe helped their students develop mastery of testing and empower them in academic settings.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

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 the authors researched their own and other state's tests, they were amazed at the command of the English language and extensive vocabulary that was required in order to answer even basic 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.
  • As a result of these findings, the teachers 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.

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). "It's How You Ask That Counts." The Journal of Communication and Education: Language Magazine.

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.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

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.

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.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

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.?

Findings:

  • 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.

Leading Inclusive ELL: Social Justice Leadership for English Language Learners

Author: George Theoharis, Joanne O'Toole

Summary: This article attempts to build a better understanding of the leadership necessary to create socially just schools for English language learners (ELLs). To achieve this, it reports on the instrumental case studies of two urban elementary schools and the principals involved in school reform that resulted in inclusive ELL services.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Target Population: Elementary School

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • In what ways do principals create asset–based, collaborative, and inclusive learning opportunities and services for ELLs?
  • What do varying approaches of these services and the leadership necessary look like in practice?

Findings:

  • The first principal led her school to adopt a dual certification approach, where the staff engaged in professional development around ELL. They combined federal, state, and local resources to eliminate pullout ELL programs and reduce class size so elementary teachers would take sole responsibility for building community and instructing ELL and all students.
  • The second principal led his school to adopt a coteaching approach where teams of general education and English as a second language (ESL) teachers planned as a team and cotaught all students. They eliminated pullout ELL services and focused on community building, professional development, and collaboration.
  • Student achievement at both schools, and in particular the achievement of ELL students, greatly improved, as did the connection with ELL families. The cross–case analysis provides a comparison between the cases of inclusive ESL reform.

Policy Recommendations:
The authors propose implications for school leaders that build on the literature, social justice leadership, and the work of the principals, staffs, and communities at the schools from the case studies described here.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
This article requires a subscription to Educational Administration Quarterly.

Theoharis, G., O'Toole, J. (2011). "Leading Inclusive ELL: Social Justice Leadership for English Language Learners." Journal of Leadership for Effective & Equitable Organizations. http://eaq.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/03/10/0013161X11401616.abstract?rss=1

Learning Denied: The Case for Equitable Access to Effective Teaching in California’s Largest School District

Author: The Education Trust-West.

Summary:

In the following pages, the authors tell the story of how this came to be. They start by describing how they identified the district's most and least effective teachers. Moving into their findings, they explore how much these teachers affect student learning and discuss the characteristics of the district's most effective teachers.

Next, they use our data to describe the distribution of effective teachers in the district, paying close attention to who they teach and the kinds of schools they serve. Their final set of findings investigates how quality-blind layoff processes have affected effective teachers, high-need students, and high-need schools. They wrap up the report with a discussion of some key reasons for the inequitable distribution of effective teachers and recommend strategies that can change these patterns.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Target Population: K-12

Research Questions the Report Poses: How can we identify effective teachers?

Findings:

  • Teachers have the potential to dramatically accelerate or impede the academic performance of their students, whether they are starting below grade level or are ready for more advanced instruction.
  • Commonly used measures of teacher quality, including years of experience and "Highly Qualified Teacher" status, are poor predictors of effectiveness in the classroom.
  • Quality-blind teacher layoffs in 2009 resulted in the removal of dozens of high value-added teachers from the highest need schools.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Invest in evaluation systems that can identify both effective teachers and those who are failing to raise student performance.
  • Develop programs and policies that place and retain the best teachers in the highest need schools.
  • Reform state policies that prevent local leaders from making decisions in the best interests of students, and that have caused the loss of effective teachers from our highest need schools. This includes repealing, once and for all, laws governing "last in, first out" teacher layoffs.
  • Provide the state oversight necessary to ensure that low-income students and students of color are not disproportionally taught by ineffective teachers.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
The Education Trust-West 1814 Franklin St., Suite 220, Oakland, Calif. 94612

(2012). Learning Denied: The Case for Equitable Access to Effective Teaching in California’s Largest School District. The Education Trust- West.

Learning, Teaching, and Leading in Healthy School Communities

Author: ASCD (formerly Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development)

Summary: This report evaluates the model and strategies used in ASCD’s Healthy School Communities (HSC) project that seeks to improve quality and level of education by ensuring the good “health” of students, teachers, parents, administrators, and community members. “Health” refers to physical, social, mental, and well-being of all these people involved in the school, both directly and indirectly.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

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

Target Population: Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What elements of the Healthy School Community (HSC) project yield the best results for improving school health?

Findings:

  • The single most important factor is having an engaged and effective principal who fully embraces the HSC model, actively participating but also distributing tasks among a team.
  • Collaboration of various forms is crucial. This includes letting parents have a say in matters, getting community members involved and personally invested in the success of the school, and networking with other healthy schools for strategies.
  • "Healthy" schools that focus on the "whole child" are the best kind because teachers can teach to their fullest abilities and students can learn to their highest potential.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Build a team dedicated to improving school health that is led by a principal but broken into teams, which incorporates parents, teachers, and stakeholders of the community.
  • Enact systemic, rather than programmatic change, by making foundational changes such as rewriting mission/goals and getting everyone involved in changes as opposed to the principal making decisions singlehandedly.

ASCD (2010). Learning, Teaching, and Leading in Healthy School Communities. Alexandria, VA: ACSD.

Making Writing Instruction a Priority in America's Middle and High Schools

Author: Alliance for Excellent Education

Summary: This policy brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education explores current writing instruction practices in American schools and offers suggestions for improvement. The report warns that middle and high school students currently do very little writing in school, and few receive adequate writing instruction. The Alliance offers recommendations for both teachers and policymakers and provides a list of eleven effective strategies for teaching writing.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Curriculum; Instructional Programs;

Target Population: Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the current writing instruction practices in American schools, and how can they be improved?

Findings:

The authors recommend explicit instruction in the following steps of the writing process:

  • Setting goals
  • Inquiry and analysis
  • Prewriting
  • Planning
  • Revising
  • Editing
  • Summarizing
  • Peer editing and collaboration
  • Sentence combining
  • Writing for different audiences
  • Close reading a variety of models
  • Writing in the content areas
  • Word processing

Policy Recommendations:

The authors recommend:

  • Investing in adolescent literacy at the federal level.
  • Giving schools more flexibility and resources in order to schedule writing instruction.
  • Encouraging states to integrate writing skills into content-area standards.
  • Increasing federal support for the National Writing Project.
  • Increasing federal funding for enhanced assessments that take student writing into account under No Child Left Behind accountability.
  • Supporting enhanced teacher professional development in adolescent literacy.

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

Alliance for Excellent Education. (2007). Making Writing Instruction a Priority in America's Middle and High Schools. Washington, DC: Author.

Meeting the Literacy Development Needs of Adolescent English Language Learners Through Content Area Learning (Part 1): Focus on Motivation and Engagement

Author: Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory (LAB), The Education Alliance at Brown University, Julie Meltzer and Edmund Hamann

Summary: This article reviews research concerning literacy engagement and motivation of adolescent ELL students as well as native speakers in content-area classrooms. Instructional principals such as the "scaffolding" method and activation of students' prior knowledge are explored, as well as importance of content relevance and choice in student-centered learning. Additionally, the article provides guidelines for research-based professional development that would adequately prepare content area teachers to support the literacy development of all secondary students.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Content Areas: Math; Content Areas: Science; Content Areas: Social Studies; Motivation; Placement; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary; Writing;

Target Population: Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • What can be done to foster academic literacy, motivation, and classroom engagement among adolescent ELLs?
  • How can secondary teachers apply these strategies to better support all students?

Findings:

  • In a large body of research, literacy motivation is seen as the interaction of many factors, including self-efficacy, situational interest, attitudes toward reading, self-regulation, and how a student identifies as a reader.
  • Learning motivation theory proposes two goal orientations: one related to mastery, and one to performance. The first is aimed at improving ability, comprehension, and tackling challenges. The second focuses instead on the evaluation of one's ability by an outside observer (i.e. a teacher). As the mastery orientation involves deeper internal motivation, it is more likely to promote long-term learning.
  • If classroom tasks are too advanced or remedial for students, they will result in disengagement and a poor learning environment. This is particularly true for ELLs.

Policy Recommendations:

Professional development courses should focus on the three key teaching practices (identified in this article) that foster students' motivation to read, write, and participate with classroom literacy activities. These principles are:

  • Providing background information for the reading and forming meaningful connections between the content and students' lives
  • Acknowledging students' opinions and giving them appropriate, varied choices in academic assignments
  • Fostering dialogue among students and text inquiry to build literacy skills

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
The Education Alliance at Brown
222 Richmond Street, Suite 300
Providence, RI 02903-4226
Phone: 800.521.9550
Fax: 401.421.7650
E-mail: info@alliance.brown.edu

Meltzer, J. & Hamann, E. (2004). Meeting the literacy development needs of adolescent English language learners. Part one: Focus on motivation and engagement. Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory.

Meeting the Literacy Development Needs of Adolescent English Language Learners Through Content Area Learning (Part 2): Focus on Classroom Teaching and Learning Strategies

Author: Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory (LAB), The Education Alliance at Brown University, Julie Meltzer and Edmund Hamann

Summary: Part Two of this report highlights areas of overlap between the research on adolescents' content-area literacy development and literature addressing the academic performance and instruction of ELLs. This process allowed the authors to identify instructional strategies that are beneficial for all students, which they recommend incorporating in future professional development for teachers.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Content Areas: Math; Content Areas: Science; Content Areas: Social Studies; Differentiated Instruction; Intervention; Motivation; Placement; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary; Writing;

Target Population: Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: How can teachers and school administrators simultaneously foster all secondary students' academic literacy across content areas and respond to the particular needs of ELLs?

Findings:

  • About six million middle and high school students (more than a quarter of the U.S. student population) are reading below grade level, classified as at-risk or struggling.
  • ELLs are frequently placed in mainstream classrooms with teachers with little to no training. This, posit the authors, is due to the lack of trained ESL instructors, the rapidly growing ELL population, and caps on the number of years students can spend in ELL or bilingual programs.
  • Research indicates that a minimum of four years of English instruction is crucial for the academic success of ELLs. Moreover, native language instruction can have added benefits.
  • Student achievement can be boosted with the use of several key pedagogical practices, outlined in the section below.

Policy Recommendations:

Teacher development and training should target the best practices of both adolescent literacy and ELL research. These include:

  • Teacher modeling and explicit strategy instruction to demonstrate the skills required for a task, and the use of follow-up assessments to measure student comprehension and areas for future growth.
  • Classroom emphasis on building reading, writing, speaking, thinking, and listening skills to provide more complex and challenging learner-centered classrooms.
  • Instruction on cognitive and metacognitive strategies during literacy tasks to strengthen students' ability to evaluate their own work and analyze content.
  • Subject-specific vocabulary instruction and exposure to texts with high level vocabulary.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
The Education Alliance at Brown
222 Richmond Street, Suite 300
Providence, RI 02903-4226
Phone: 800.521.9550
Fax: 401.421.7650
E-mail: info@alliance.brown.edu

Meltzer, J. & Hamann, E. (2004). Meeting the literacy development needs of adolescent English language learners. Part two: Focus on classroom teaching and learning strategies. Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory .

Middle-to-High School Transition for English Language Learners: Promising School-Based Practices

Author: Lara, J., & Harford, S.; Smaller Learning Communities Program

Summary: This paper examines the nexus among three current areas of concern for secondary educators and policymakers: restructuring high schools into small learning communities (SLCs); supporting the transition of students into the ninth grade; and instructing English language learners (ELLs). Research in these three separate areas has become increasingly abundant and relevant as national educational policy focus has shifted toward high school improvement. ELLs are enrolled in large numbers in urban schools, which have lately been the recipients of high school reform initiatives. Yet, despite the abundant presence of ELLs in these schools, little information is available on how the distinctive linguistic, academic, and social needs of ELLs have been considered in high school reform policies and programmatic initiatives.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Intervention; Language Proficiency; Motivation; Placement; Struggling Readers;

Target Population: Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • What is the best middle to high school transitions for ELLs?
  • What happens to the ELL moving from eighth to ninth grade in a SLC?
  • How are his or her unique educational needs considered?
  • Is the instructional program designed to seamlessly integrate English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) instruction with the SLC or ninth?grade transitional programs?
  • Is the student required to choose between accessing linguistically appropriate instruction and accessing the benefits of a career or technical academy?
  • Does the student's de facto status as an ELL preclude him or her from taking part in programs and courses within the SLC schools?

Findings:

  • In order to ensure that ELL students catch up with their peers, the school must place emphasis on intense ELD instruction.
  • Teachers should use specialized instructional methodologies to build their abilities to teach content to ELL students.
  • Beneficial to ELL transitions are the flexible delivery and scheduling of academic and non-academic supports.
  • It does not appear that any one school is implementing a coherent service delivery plan. Instead, there are examples of isolated implementation of best practices in a given area, but not across the school or for all ELL students

Lara, J., & Harford, S. (n.d.). Middle-to-High School Transition for English Language Learners: Promising School-Based Practices. Smaller Learning Communities Program. Retrieved January 13, 2011 from: http://www.edweek.org/media/final-middletohighschool.pdf

Practical Guidelines for the Education of English Language Learners: Research-based Recommendations for the Instruction and Academic Interventions

Author: David J. Francis and Mabel Rivera/Center on Instruction English Language Learners Strand, Nonie Lesaux and Michael Kieffer/Havard Graduate School of Education, Hector Rivera/Center on Instruction English Language Learners Strand

Summary: After briefly highlighting the characteristics of and how to best identify ELL students, this article shows the importance of effective instruction and intervention not only for academically struggling ELL students, but also for all ELL students including those individuals who are linguistically fluent in English. Before looking into the proposed recommendations the article also briefly looks into the importance of mastering academic language skills as key elements to academic success. The importance of academic language skills is revisited under the recommendations sections for both reading comprehension and mathematics.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: American Indian ELL Students; Asian ELL Students; Comprehension; Content Areas: Math; Fluency; Instructional Programs; Intervention; Language of Instruction; Language Proficiency; Latino ELL Students; Other ELL Students (Middle Eastern, African, European, etc.); Phonics; Phonological Awareness; Reading; Struggling Readers; Vocabulary; Writing;

Target Population: Elementary School, Middle School, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What students are classified as being English Language Learners? How are they best identified, and what recommendations should be made to more adequately instruct possible ELL students to prevent further learning difficulties?

Findings:

  • Statistics for ELLs may be hard to obtain or may be inaccurate since many ELL students go without being properly identified
  • ELL students can better from more individualized instruction
  • Mastery of academic language is necessary for academic success, which can prove to be difficult even for English speaking proficient ELLs
  • In order to provide effective support of reading comprehension to ELLs educators must have an understanding of the child's individual needs
  • In addition to reading comprehension it is crucial for students to become proficient in mathematics

Policy Recommendations:
While the article did not have any specific policy recommendations the recommendations listed in the article could be taken as such and thus included in this section.

Recommendations for Reading Instruction and interventions:

  • ELLs need early, explicit, and intensive instruction in phonological awareness and phonics in order to build decoding skills.
  • K-12 classrooms across the nation must increase opportunities for ELLs to develop sophisticated vocabulary knowledge.
  • Reading instruction in K-12 classrooms must equip ELLs with strategies and knowledge to comprehend and analyze challenging narrative and expository texts.
  • Instruction and intervention to promote ELLs' reading fluency must focus on vocabulary and increased exposure to print.
  • In all K-12 classrooms across the U.S., ELLs need significant opportunities to engage in structured, academic talk.
  • Independent reading is only beneficial when it is structured and purposeful, and there is a good reader-text match.
Recommendations for Mathematics Instruction:

  • ELLs need early explicit and intensive instruction and intervention in basic mathematics concepts and skill.
  • Academic language is as central to mathematics as it is to other academic areas. It is a significant source of difficulty for many ELLs who struggle with mathematics.
  • ELLs need academic language support to understand and solve the word problems that are often used for mathematics assessment and instruction.

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

Francis, David J., Mabel Rivera, Nonie Lesaux, and Hector Rivera. (2006). Research-Based Recommendations for Instruction and Academic Interventions. Practical Guidelines for the Education of English Language Learners, Retrieved April 11,2008, from http://www.centeroninstruction.org/files/ELL1-Interventions.pdf

Promoting Academic Literacy Among Secondary English Language Learners: A Synthesis of Research and Practice

Author: UC Davis School of Education

Summary: Provides an overview of issues related to teaching English language learners (ELL), and recommendations for California policy including: challenges secondary ELL students face; needs and limitations of teachers and schools in CA; and best practices cited by researchers and practitioners. The report largely summarizes three days of panel presentations and discussions by ELL experts convened in 2005.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Differentiated Instruction; Language Proficiency; Placement;

Target Population: middle and high school

Research Questions the Report Poses: What policy steps should occur in California to improve the education of secondary English Language Learners?

Findings:
A number of themes emerged from the panel discussants including:

  • the need for identifying ELL students better; inadequate existing programs for ELL secondary students;
  • the need for more teachers and administrators who are knowledgeable about the needs of secondary ELL students; and
  • the importance of advocacy and staying on-message to improve ELL education.

Policy Recommendations:
The report adopts five policy steps that should occur including:

  • Convene a panel of experts;
  • Promote pilot programs;
  • Develop an effective ELL assessment system;
  • Establish a committee in the CA legislature to recruit and retain highly skilled ELL teachers and administrators; and
  • Organize a summit to bring attention and focus to the need for improved ELL secondary education.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
NA

Maxwell-Jolly, J., Gandara, P. & Benavidez L. M. (2005). Promoting academic literacy among secondary English language learners: A synthesis of research and practice. Davis, CA: UC Davis School of Education.

Promoting Science Among English Language Learners: Professional Development For Today's Culturally And Linguistically Diverse Classrooms

Author: Buxton, C., Lee, O., & Santau, A.

Summary: In this report, the authors describe a model professional development intervention for supporting third- through fifth- grade teachers' science instruction in urban elementary schools with high numbers of ELLs. The intervention consisted of curriculum materials for students and teachers, as well as teacher workshops throughout the school year. Secondary goals included supporting teachers' and students' mathematical understanding, improving teachers' and students' scientific reasoning, capitalizing on students' home language and culture, and preparing students for high-stakes science testing and accountability through hands-on, inquiry-based learning experiences.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Curriculum;

Target Population: Elementary School

Findings:

  • Professional development tends to be "strategy-focused" and rarely attempts to conceptualize or implement in a systemic way the multiple challenges of promoting classroom practices that are both equitable and rigorous.
  • Even when professional development efforts address multiple classroom challenges simultaneously, an awareness of the complexity of issues of diversity does not necessarily translate into a workable model of professional development.
  • Effective professional development must consider a range of factors, including the need for elementary teachers to addresses academic content and literacy objectives with all students, including ELLs; the context of urban schools with limited resources and high student/teacher mobility; and the role of high-stakes testing and accountability on instructional time.

Buxton, C., Lee, O., & Santau, A. (In press). Promoting science among English language learners: Professional development for today's culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms. Journal of Science Teacher Education.

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

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

Summary:

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.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

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?"

Findings:

  • 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:
n/a

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.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

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?

Findings:

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.

Teaching English Language Learners: What the Research Does — and Does Not — Say

Author: Claude Goldenberg

Summary: This thorough review offers a comprehensive summary of existing research on issues related to the education of ELLs. Dr. Claude Goldenberg focuses on two major reviews of research, one by the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth, and the other by the Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence (CREDE). Topics covered include: bilingual education, oral language development, reading instruction, curriculum, instructional methods, assessment, and accommodations.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Bilingualism / Biliteracy; Comprehension; Differentiated Instruction; Language of Instruction; Language Proficiency; Phonological Awareness; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • What is the state of our knowledge regarding policies and practices of instruction of ELLs-what do we know and what remains unanswered?
  • From the current body of research, what conclusions can we make about effective policies and practices?

Findings:

  • Most ELLs actually were born in the U.S., though most of their parents were born elsewhere.
  • By far, the majority of ELLs-80 percent-are Spanish speakers. This is an important fact to bear in mind, since Spanish speakers in the U.S. tend to come from lower economic and educational backgrounds than either the general population or other immigrants populations. Consequently, most ELLs are at risk for poor school outcomes not only because of language, but also because of socioeconomic factors.
  • A majority of ELLs (60%) are in essentially all-English instruction. Of these 12% receive no additional support or services, 50% receive some "LEP services" (Limited English Proficient), and 40% receive some instruction incorporating native language.
  • Teaching students to read in their first language promotes higher levels of reading achievement in English, probably due to "knowledge transfer" across languages, though it is not automatic.
  • What we know about good instruction and curriculum in general holds true for ELL s., ie benefits of explicit instruction of phonics, writing, and comprehension; contextual explanation of vocabulary; cooperative learning; interactive teaching.
  • Effects of "culturally-accommodated instruction" are uncertain.

Policy Recommendations:
Instructional modification for ELLs:

  • Make English texts accessible by choosing familiar content.
  • Build vocabulary in English.
  • Use the primary language for support.
  • Support ELLs in English-only settings also.
  • Assess knowledge and language proficiency separately.
  • Add time for ELLs to learn (extended day, after school, extended year, summer school, extra years to earn a diploma).
  • Promote productive interaction between ELLs and English speakers.

Goldenberg, C. (2008). Teaching English language learners: what the research does&mdash and does not&mdash say. American Educator, Retrieved from http://www.aft.org/pdfs/americaneducator/summer2008/goldenberg.pdf

Teaching Literacy in English to K-5 English Learners

Author: What Works Clearinghouse; U.S. Department of Education

Summary: "Teaching Literacy in English to K-5 English Learners" discusses the importance of teaching English learners to read in English while they are developing oral proficiency, and how this helps them increase vocabulary, speak in English, and learn other subject-matter content. Specifically, it recommends and explains successful practices in 5 different areas based on solid research: assessment, small-group instruction, vocabulary instruction, academic English development, and cooperative learning.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Comprehension; Instructional Programs; Language Proficiency; Reading; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Elementary School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the best methods to teach literacy to elementary school English language learners?

Findings:

  • English learners can learn to how to read in English at about the same rate as native speakers. This was not known five or ten years ago.
  • English language development and comprehension needs to be improved, by introducing academic English as early as kindergarten or pre-K.
  • The importance of richer vocabulary instruction than most that found in conventional reading books is critical.
  • It is very productive for kids to work with their peers, and with a structured procedure, as early as kindergarten, working in groups of either two or four, assuring they know what to do.
  • The most effective professional development is for grade-level teams to meet in small groups, discuss articles, and immediate determine how they apply to their own schools and programs specifically.
  • The approach suggested here appears to work with all current models about language instruction.
  • There is no need to delay beginning reading instruction, as long as the instruction reflects current research findings.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Conduct formative assessments to screen for reading problems and monitor progress.
  • Provide intensive, small group reading interventions for English learners at risk for reading problems.
  • Provide extensive and varied vocabulary instruction throughout the day.
  • Develop academic English competence beginning in the primary grades.
  • Schedule regular peer-assisted learning opportunities, including structured language practice.

Teaching Literacy in English to K-5 English Learners. U.S. Department of Education: Doing What Works. Washington, D.C.

The Effect of Providing Breakfast on Student Performance: Evidence From and In-Class Breakfast Program

Author: Imberman, S.A., & Kugler, A, D. National Bureau of Economic Research.

Summary:

In response to low take-up, many public schools have experimented with moving breakfast from the cafeteria to the classroom. We examine whether such a program increases performance as measured by standardized test scores, grades, and attendance rates. We exploit quasi-random timing of program implementation that allows for a difference-in-differences identification strategy. Our main identification assumption is that schools where the program was introduced earlier would have evolved similarly to those where the program was introduced later. We find that in-class breakfast increases both math and reading achievement by about one-tenth of a standard deviation relative to providing breakfast in the cafeteria. Moreover, we find that these effects are most pronounced for low performing, free-lunch eligible, Hispanic, and low BMI students. We also find some improvements in attendance for high achieving students but no impact on grades.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Target Population: Elementary and Middle School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What is the impact of moving breakfast services from the cafeteria to the classroom on student achievement, attendance and grades?

Findings:

  • Such programs also have the potential to increase breakfast consumption over cafeteria-based programs as they reduce the potential for stigma associated with students going to the cafeteria for breakfast being identified by other students as low-income.
  • Since such a program reduces the time and effort costs to students from consuming breakfast, it is likely that these programs increase consumption.
  • Using a difference-in-differences strategy we find that providing free breakfast in the classroom increases math and reading achievement by 0.1 standard deviations relative to providing free breakfast in the cafeteria. These effects almost entirely come from Hispanic students, with black students showing little impact.
  • They find some evidence that attendance improves amongst high achieving student and little evidence of any impacts on grades. This provides further evidence that the achievement gains might be due to better test performance rather than learning gains.
  • Policy Recommendations:
    N/A

    To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
    NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138

    Imberman, S.A., & Kugler, A, D. (2012). The Effect of Providing Breakfast on Student Performance: Evidence From and In-Class Breakfast Program. National Bureau of Economic Research.

The Role of English Teachers in Educating English Language Learners (ELLs)

Author: National Council of Teachers of English (ELL Task Force)

Summary: This position paper is designed to address the knowledge and skills mainstream teachers need to have in order to develop effective curricula that engage English language learners, develop their academic skills, and help them negotiate their identities as bilingual learners. More specifically, this paper addresses the language and literacy needs of these learners as they participate and learn in English-medium classes. NCTE has made clear bilingual students' right to maintain their native languages. Thus, this paper addresses ways teachers can help these students develop English as well as ways they can support their students' bilingualism. In the United States bilingual learners, more commonly referred to as English language learners, are defined as students who know a language other than English and are learning English. Students' abilities range from being non-English speakers to being fully proficient. The recommendations in this paper apply to all of them.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Comprehension; Curriculum; Language Proficiency; Reading; Struggling Readers; Vocabulary; Writing;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the needs of ELLs? How can teachers address these needs?

Findings:

  • Teachers need to get to know their students and about their home situations in order to be most effective.
  • Writing well in English is often the most difficult skill for English language learners to master. Thus teachers should be aware that English language learners may not be familiar with standard American writing procedure like drafting, revision, editing, workshop, conference, audience, purpose, or genre.
  • The best way to help students learn both English and the knowledge of school subjects is to teach language through content.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Colleges and universities should offer pre-service teachers preparation in teaching ELLs including coursework in language acquisition, second language writing and readings, and culture classes.
  • High school English departments should integrate programs that welcome and help acculturate late-arrival immigrant and refugee students with low literacy skills.
  • The report also provides numerous practical recommendations for strategies in the classroom in various subjects.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
The National Council of Teachers of English 1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096 Phone: 217-328-3870 or 877-369-6283 Fax: 217-328-9645

NCTE ELL Task Force. (2006). NCTE Position Paper on the Role of English Teachers in Educating English Language Learners. National Council of Teachers of English: Urbana, IL.

The Teacher's Guide to Diversity: Building a Knowledge Base

Author: Elise Trumbull and Maria Pacheco. The Education Alliance at Brown University. Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory (LAB).

Summary: The Teacher's Guide to Diversity: Building a Knowledge Base (Trumbull, Pacheco, 2005), published by The Education Alliance at Brown University, offers a wealth of information about multicultural influences on human development, culture, cognition, and language. This two-volume set, which is downloadable as a pdf file, covers such topics as: challenging cultural assumptions about parental involvement in school, supporting students' ethnic and academic identity in school, cultural differences in communication style and language use, and factors that influence second-language acquisition in children. (Volume I: Human Development, Culture, and Cognition; Volume II: Language) Also included is a separate presenter's manual with activities for each unit in the two volumes, which makes this publication easy to use for workshops and professional development.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Bilingualism / Biliteracy; Fluency; Language of Instruction; Language Proficiency; Phonics; Phonological Awareness; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses:

VOLUME I:

  • What are the reigning theories of human development, cognition, culture, and the relationship between them?
  • How does identity development intersect with achievement motivation?
  • What is intelligence?
  • How can our knowledge of human development inform our work as educators working with an increasingly diverse student population?
  • What is known about how to work successfully with families from non-dominant cultural groups?

VOLUME II:

  • What is language proficiency and how does it interact with culture, human development, learning, and schooling?
  • How can teachers best support English language learners (ELLs) and speakers of different English dialects?
  • What are the current views of literacy acquisition and best approaches to literacy instruction?
  • How can assessments eliminate bias based on language?

Findings:

  • Most important to the process of addressing the needs of learners from a wide range of backgrounds is a positive, ongoing process of exploration and constructive conversation among the professionals who serve such students and between professionals and students' families.
  • Meaningful approaches to human development and learning have become increasingly multi-disciplinary.
  • Language indexes culture; language symbolizes culture; culture is partially created by language.

Policy Recommendations:
Teacher's Guide to Diversity includes a third volume, "The Presenter's Manual," which provides support for preparing for and conducting classes or workshops. The manual contains activities and suggested homework assignments, organized by the volume with which they are associated.

Trumbull, E., Pacheco, M. (2005). The Teacher’s Guide to Diversity: Building a Knowledge Base. Providence, RI: The Education Alliance at Brown University. Retrieved from http://www.alliance.brown.edu/pubs/teach_guide_diversity/.

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.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

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.