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Teachers who work with English as a Second Language learners will find ESL/ESOL/ELL/EFL reading/writing skill-building children's books, stories, activities, ideas, strategies to help PreK-3, 4-8, and 9-12 students learn to read.

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Research & Reports

Struggling Readers

Approaches to Writing Instruction for Adolescent English Language Learners: A Discussion of Recent Research and Practice Literature in Relation to Nationwide Standards on Writing

Author: The Education Alliance-Brown University; Fogelman, C., Harrington, M., Kenney, E., Pacheco, M., Panofsky, C., Santos, J., et al.

Summary: With increasing and higher standards set by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and changes in the SAT writing assessment, students are required to show proficiency using a variety of writing styles both in school and eventually the workplace. Yet as the ESL field has focused more on oral language and language structures rather than writing proficiency, ELLs — and their instructors — are often unprepared to successfully complete intensive writing assessments. As a result, the authors of the report argue that there is a need to pinpoint and understand a knowledge base for teaching writing to adolescent ELLs.

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Tags: Curriculum; Instructional Programs; Language of Instruction; Language Proficiency; Motivation; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Writing;

Target Population: Middle, High School, Post-Secondary

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • What is the available research base and practice literature to help teachers prepare ELLs to meet the standards?
  • What is the quality and quantity of the research base?
  • How does it contribute to efforts to improve pedagogy, curricula, and programming?
  • Is there a common set of standards for writing across the nation, and if so, what is it?
  • Does the research and practice literature connect to the standards? If so, how?
  • Where are the gaps, if any, between the research and the standards?

Findings:

  • The field of ESL is based on applied linguistics, which has historically focused on oral language and language structure, rather than writing composition. The assumption that oral language precedes and leads to written language ignores the possibility that written language can be a source for oral language development.
  • Second language learning research has focused on young or elementary age learners or on higher education and international students but rarely on adolescents, especially U.S. resident and immigrant ELLs.
  • The field of composition has focused on native speakers and assumes native competence of writing students, and even when L2 research began to focus on writing, it was in foreign language contexts (EFL and FL teaching) and at the college level.
  • ELLs in U.S. high schools receive insufficient writing instruction in ESL; insufficient oral and structural language support in mainstream English; and insufficient content instruction prior to mainstreaming.
  • Assessment of second language writing is complex and problematic; timed writing often results in significant underperformance of ELLs, and raters are overly influenced by surface level of L2 writing.
  • Motivations for revision and peer interaction are based on context rather than individual learner characteristics.
  • The use of computers can facilitate production and revision of written texts.
  • Teacher feedback varies in effectiveness and is most successful for immigrant and U.S. resident adolescent students when it is specific (rather than global), when it identifies examples from the student's writing, when it asks for specific information from personal experience or texts, and when it uses indirect error correction (identifying error but requiring student to correct it).
  • A disciplinary division of labor exists between the fields of ESL and mainstream English language arts and composition that significantly affects research, curricula, and teacher preparation.

Policy Recommendations:

  • There is a need for studies that can provide a solid knowledge base on both middle and high school ELLs.
  • Substantial research should be done on what works for effective writing instruction of school-age adolescent ELLs.
  • Studies on successful strategies should include: classroom activities, including instruction, interaction, and reading and writing.
  • Writing instruction programs need to be examined against the pattern of school structures, the knowledge base of the ESL teachers and the curriculum of the program, and the knowledge base of mainstream teachers.
  • Students need to be assessed in oral and written proficiency.
  • Students' and parents attitudes on satisfaction with the writing program at their school need to be surveyed.

Fogelman, C., Harrington, M., Kenney, E., Pacheco, M., Panofsky, C., Santos, J., et al. (2005). Approaches to Writing Instruction for Adolescent English Language Learners: A Discussion of Recent Research and Practice Literature in Relation to Nationwide Standards on Writing. Providence, RI: The Education Alliance at Brown University.

Building Capacity to Promote College- and Career Readiness for Secondary English Language Learners

Author: American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF)

Summary: There is a growing need for states to improve academic performance and language proficiency of ELLs. A major focus of attention is the college and career readiness of ELLs and what practices and policies need to be enacted to increase the capacity for these students to succeed. The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) met with five state policy leaders in Austin, TX to discuss and examine potential solutions.

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Tags: Comprehension; Intervention; Language Proficiency; Struggling Readers;

Target Population: Post-secondary

Research Questions the Report Poses: What policies are practices exist/should be developed to ensure to success of adolescent second-language learners?

Findings:

  • Building Human Capital: Providing Educators with Tools to Support ELLs
  • Meeting the Demand for ESL Specialists
  • The Role of Partnerships and Cross-Systems Collaboration
  • Recognizing the Diversity of the ELL Population and Differentiating Support
  • College Access for ELL Students

Policy Recommendations:

  • Build the capacity of all educators, including content-area teachers, to provide effective instruction for ELLs
  • Support programs that develop a pipeline of educators who are trained and certified to specialize in ESL instruction
  • Promote institutional partnerships and cross-systems collaboration
  • Ensure that policies are responsive to the diversity of the ELL population.
  • Support opportunities for postsecondary education and careers for immigrant students.

Building Capacity to Promote College- and Career Readiness for Secondary English Language Learners: Policy Briefing featuring Austin, Texas. (2010.) Washington, DC: American Youth Policy Forum. Retrieved August 2, 2010 from: http://www.aypf.org/tripreports/2010/documents/Austin%20Building%20Capacity%20for%20ELLs%20Iss

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

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

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

Research Questions the Report Poses:

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

Findings:

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

Policy Recommendations:

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

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

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

Double the Work: Challenges and Solutions to Acquiring Language and Academic Literacy for Adolescent English Language Learners

Summary: Adolescent English Language Learners (ELLs), who must simultaneously learn English and age–appropriate subject material, perform double the work of their native language peers because they are held to the same grade-level standards for academic literacy. Moreover, the ELL population is comprised of a diverse range of learners who vary dramatically in their existing literacy levels, native languages, and cultural and educational backgrounds. This report is the effort of a panel of researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to address six main challenges to improving academic literacy among ELLs, as well as proposed solutions and policy implications.

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Tags: Curriculum; Fluency; Instructional Programs; Intervention; Language Proficiency; Struggling Readers;

Short, D., & Fitzsimmons, S. (2007). Double the Work: Challenges and solutions to acquiring language and academic literacy for adolescent English language learners– A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

Effect of School Mobility on Student Outcomes

Author: Lisa Eddy. University of Kentucky.

Summary: Student mobility and its relationship to academic success have been researched since World War II with varied findings (Goebel, 1978). Establishing the relationship between mobility and achievement is difficult due to the fact that mobility is related to many factors. Mobility has been found to be prevalent among students who traditionally demonstrate achievement gaps (specifically students of low-income status) (Long, 1992; Smith, Fien & Paine, 2008). Mobility's relationship to achievement is complex. Led by a single definition of mobility, admittance to more than one school in the given district over the period of one academic year, this research study sought to determine the effect of mobility on academic achievement. Specifically, the research focused on mobility's effect on students classified as low–income and the effect of school mobility level on academic achievement of its students. This study used a quantitative design; student records were obtained for mobility data, and criterion referenced test scores in mathematics and language arts were utilized to measure academic achievement. Findings revealed that mobile students performed below non-mobile students, low–income status affected mobile students negatively, and mobility level of the school attended had a negative effect on the academic achievement of its students.

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Tags: Intervention; Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA; Struggling Readers;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • Is there a difference in academic achievement between mobile and non-mobile students?
  • Is there a difference in academic achievement of mobile students who are low–income versus mobile students who are not? Does the effect of mobility on academic achievement vary according to student's income level?
  • Are there differences in academic achievement of fourth grade students based on the mobility level of the school they attend?

Findings:

  • A significant difference was found between academic achievement of mobile and non–mobile students, in both math and language arts.
  • Economically disadvantaged students were found to suffer greater (negative) effects from mobility than students that were not categorized as economically disadvantaged.
  • Mean mobility level of school was found to (negatively) affect academic outcomes.
  • One explanation for the reduced academic performance is loss of social capital (ie lack of social support and low parental involvement).

Policy Recommendations:

  • Mobility rates are higher among elementary school children than high school students, and there is greater mobility within the same district. Therefore policies considered for implementation to help mobile students should begin at the elementary level.
  • Educators should consider developing protocols that identify students in need of additional support and provide relevant programs appropriate to address student needs.
  • Educators should have a system in place that: (a) monitors student records to ensure appropriate placement; (b) provides both social and academic support for new students; (c) provides support for parents and families new to the school; and (d) provides support in developing curricula for transitioning students.

Eddy, Lisa, "THE EFFECT OF STUDENT MOBILITY ON STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT" (2011). Doctoral Dissertations. Paper 177.

English Language Learners and Learning Disabilities: Research Agenda and Implications for Practice

Summary: "English Language Learners and Learning Disabilities: Research Agenda and Implications for Practice" defines a research agenda to address issues related to identification and placement of English language learners with learning disabilities. Using information gathered during an October 2003 National Symposium on Learning Disabilities in English Language Learners, the authors recommend future research in the following areas: identification and assessment of learning disabilities among ELLs, definition of what constitutes normal developmental patterns in ELLs, identification of individual and contextual issues that affect ELL performance, the relationship between neurobiology and learning disabilities among ELLs, and development of effective interventions for ELLs with learning disabilities. *Must purchase article, become a member of Wiley Online Library, or access it through institution database.

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Tags: Differentiated Instruction; Struggling Readers;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses: What knowledge about learning disabilities among monolingual native-English students and strategies for instruction can be applied to English language learners with learning disabilities?

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
From Journal Learning Disabilities Research & Practice: Volume 20, Issue 1, pages 68-79, February 2005.

McCardle, P., Mele-McCarthy, J. and Leos, K. (2005), English Language Learners and Learning Disabilities: Research Agenda and Implications for Practice. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 20: 68-78.

Ensuring Academic Success for English Learners

Author: Laurie Olson, UC Linguistic Minority Research Institute

Summary: This report, or position paper, highlights nine elements of a strong program, based on three decades of research. The report recommends best practices that include accessible preschool programs, support for newcomers of all ages, and a focus on English language development.

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Tags: Bilingual Instruction; Bilingualism / Biliteracy; Comprehension; Curriculum; Differentiated Instruction; Fluency; Instructional Programs; Intervention; Language of Instruction; Language Proficiency; Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary; Writing;

Target Population: Preschool, Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: The paper provides an overview of research and knowledge that educators can use to create schools in which English learners thrive and achieve at high levels.

Policy Recommendations:

  • 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; and
  • 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.

Integrated Vocabulary Instruction: Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners in Grades K-5

Author: Camille L. Z. Blachowicz, Peter J. Fisher, Susan Watts-Taffe / Learning Point Associates

Summary: The goal of this document is to provide the information that teachers and other educators need to implement an integrated and comprehensive approach to vocabulary instruction. Integrated means that vocabulary is a core consideration in all grades across the school and in all content areas across the school day. Comprehensive means that vocabulary instruction encompasses much more than a list of words to teach at the beginning of the week. Rather, it involves a common philosophy and shared practices, based on a solid understanding the knowledge base and supported by curricular considerations as well as classroom and school organizational procedures.

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Tags: Bilingual Instruction; Books and Other Reading Materials; Comprehension; Differentiated Instruction; Instructional Programs; Motivation; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Elementary School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the most effective ways to teach vocabulary to diverse learners?

Findings:
This article focuses on strategies and techniques for integrating vocabulary into the classroom. Some of the vocabulary areas covered are:

  • Synonyms
  • Antonyms
  • Compound words
  • Root words
  • Using technology to teach vocabulary

Policy Recommendations:
N/A

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Learning Point Associates 1100 17th Street N.W., Suite 500 Washington, DC 20036

Blachowicz, C.L.Z, Watts-Taffe, S. & Fisher, P. (2005). Learning Point Associates.

K-12 Education: Many Challenges Arise in Educating Students Who Change Schools Frequently

Author: U.S Government Accountability Office

Summary: The educational achievement of students can be negatively affected by changing schools often. This report done by the GAO examines the “recent economic downturn, with foreclosures and homelessness” and its possible effect on increasing student mobility. This in turn will inform the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

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Tags: Intervention; Struggling Readers;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • What are the numbers and characteristics of students who change schools, and what are the reasons students change schools?
  • What is known about the effects of mobility on student outcomes, including academic achievement, behavior, and other outcomes?
  • What challenges does student mobility present for schools in meeting the educational needs of students who change schools?
  • What key federal programs are schools using to address the needs of mobile students?

Findings:

  • Students who change schools often face challenges due to differences in what is taught and how it is taught
  • Students may arrive without records or with incomplete records, making it difficult for teachers to make placement decisions and identify special education needs.
  • Teachers and principals told us that schools face challenges in supporting the needs of these students' families, the circumstances of which often underlie frequent school changes.
  • These schools face the dual challenge of educating a mobile student population, as well as a general student population, that is often largely low-income and disadvantaged
  • Teachers and principals told us that mobile students are often eligible for and benefit from federal programs for low-income, disadvantaged students, such as Title 1, Part A of ESEA which funds tutoring and after-school instruction.
  • Rely on the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program, which provides such things as clothing and school supplies to homeless students and requires schools to provide transportation for homeless students who lack permanent residence so they can avoid changing schools.

K-12 Education: Many Challenges Arise in Educating Students Who Change Schools Frequently. (2010). U.S Government Accountability Office. Retrieved January 13, 2011 from: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d1140.pdf

Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap

Author: K.L. Alexander, D.R.Entwisle, & L.S. Olson

Summary: "Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap" by Alexander, Entwisle, and Olson examines the long-term effect of differences in summer learning, which tend to be associated with family socioeconomic level. The researchers found that achievement during the first nine years of school is related primarily to school-year learning; however, the achievement gap between high-SES and low-SES students at 9th grade is more closely associated with differences in out-of-school summer learning during the elementary school years.

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Tags: Intervention; Motivation; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle school

Research Questions the Report Poses: What are the long-term educational consequences of summer learning differences based on family socioeconomic level?

Findings:

  • Prior to high school, the achievement gap by family SES traces substantially to unequal learning opportunities in children's home and community environments.
  • With learning gains across social lines more nearly equal during the school year, the experience of schooling tends to offset the unequalizing press of children's out-of-school learning environments. Schooling thus appears to play a compensatory role, though there may still be unequal access to resources or opportunities even in school.
  • Summer learning differences during the foundational early grades help explain achievement-dependent outcome differences across social lines in the upper grades; this includes the transition out of high school and, for some, into college, which is oftentimes determined by whether a student is in on a college-prep track, which itself is determined by class placement based on freshman test performance.
  • Since it is low SES youth specifically whose out-of-school learning lags behind, this summer shortfall relative to better-off children contributes to the perpetuation of family advantage and disadvantage across generations.
  • The fact that achievement gaps are smaller during the school year than the summer shows that 2 common assumptions are false: that minority students have less ability to achieve and that school systems are failing.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Early interventions to keep the achievement gap from opening wide in the first place should be a high priority, and the earlier the better, with the kinds of preschool compensatory education initiatives that have proven effective.
  • Once in school, disadvantaged children need year-round, supplemental programming to counter the continuing press of family and community conditions that hold them back.
  • Create summer schools that incorporate so-called best practice principles that target disadvantaged students specifically.
  • An accountability system that monitors progress fall to spring, perhaps relative to an expected summer gain baseline be more appropriate for gauging a school's effectiveness. The current arrangement under NCLB is useful for identifying need, but little more, and certainly not for apportioning blame.

Alexander, K.L., Entwisle, D.R., & Olson, L.S. (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap. American Sociological Review, 72. Retrieved from http://brettberk.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/april07asrfeature.pdf

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

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

Summary: As with part one of this publication, part two amounts to a literature review. Part two looks for congruous instructional practices that are good for secondary ELL and native English speakers alike. The article shifts through a series of discussions about a variety of domains related to teaching and arrives at a conclusion in support of strategies beneficial to ELL students and native English language students.

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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: What instructional practices dovetail in both the ELL adolescent literacy literature and non-ELL adolescent literacy literature?

Findings:
Eight instructional approaches are supported in both literatures (what's good for ELL adolescents and adolescent native English speakers):

  1. teacher modeling, strategy instruction, and using multiple forms of assessment;
  2. emphasis on reading and writing;
  3. emphasis on speaking and listening/viewing;
  4. emphasis on thinking;
  5. creating a learner-centered classroom;
  6. recognizing and analyzing content-area discourse features;
  7. understanding text structures within the content areas; and
  8. vocabulary development.

Policy Recommendations:
Any intervention aimed at ELLs should also benefit under–served learners generally.

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 .

Meeting the Literacy Development Needs of Adolescent English Language Learners Through Content Area Learning: Part One: 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 the major research findings as they relate to engagement and motivation of ELL adolescents. The highlighted research is meant to explore the confluence of two areas of study — literacy development and schooling practices for ELLs and native English speakers — and serve as a guide for professional development for secondary teachers. The literature review explores school and classroom contexts; instructional principles like relevance, choice, and student-centered classrooms; and instructional practices like scaffolding and activating prior knowledge as they relate to adolescent ELLs.

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: Review of the literature concerning student motivation and engagement on literacy development of adolescents and research on the schooling of adolescent ELLs.

Findings:

  • literacy development and effective instruction for ELL and non-ELL adolescents alike share many commonalities;
  • isolated ELL students are further negatively impacted as a result of these findings; and
  • content-area teachers may benefit from research and practices designed for ELL teachers
"

Policy Recommendations:

  • Teachers should use current secondary school ELL literature to create a blueprint of classroom contexts in which ELLs will be motivated and engaged to read and write across the content areas, and where reading and writing will contribute to their broader academic achievement.
  • Schools should train all secondary–school teachers to promote content–area literacy for ELLs.
  • To promote ELLs' or other students' continued development and application of literacy skills for academic learning, educators should plan opportunities that
    1. provide the environmental resources to support the work (i.e., various text materials);
    2. are grounded by high expectations that students can achieve or surpass the state standards and
    3. engage students-that they involve choice, are authentic, promote self–efficacy, and support autonomy.

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.

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.

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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

New Achievement Gap Analysis Suggests Four Ways to Gain a More Comprehensive Picture of Equity.

Author: The Education Trust

Summary: Using state-level NAEP data, this brief illustrates the pitfalls in one-dimensional appraisals of achievement gaps. Analyzing the gaps from four perspectives is essential to gain a comprehensive, accurate picture of equity.

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Tags: Intervention; Rights, Students; Struggling Readers;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • Have gaps in performance between student groups decreased over time?
  • Have all groups of students gained over time?
  • What is the magnitude of the gap between groups?
  • How does each group of students currently perform relative to their counterparts in other schools, districts, or states?

Findings:

  • Six states-Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, and West Virginia-and the District of Columbia narrowed more of the gaps between student groups than did most other states. On the other hand, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, and Washington were least likely to have closed gaps and, in fact, saw more gap widening than anywhere else in the nation.
  • Student groups in Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and the District of Columbia were more likely to have improved than their peers in other states. In contrast, student groups in Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina and West Virginia were more likely to have declined.
  • Eight states stand out for smaller-than-average gaps: Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Oklahoma, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Five others, however-California, Connecticut, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin-as well as the District of Columbia, have gaps between groups that are much wider than the national average.
  • Low-income and minority students in Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, and Vermont typically perform higher than such students in other states. At the same time, low-income students and students of color in Arizona, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Nevada typically perform below their peers elsewhere
  • Ed Trust analysts combined the results from all four of these perspectives and found four states were making the most progress. Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, and Texas emerge as frontrunners for earning top scores on the gap-closing sections of their RTT applications, along with Vermont-a racially homogenous state that nevertheless generally performs well across the income spectrum. They differ greatly in size, diversity, and a host of other measures, but each state's recent performance on the achievement gap is among the best in the nation.
  • However, an analysis of the four perspectives shows the outlook isn't as rosy elsewhere. Arizona, California, Michigan, Mississippi, and Rhode Island have some of the worst track records in the country when it comes to closing the gap, which should net them a big goose-egg in some sections of the RTT scoring rubric.

New Achievement Gap Analysis Suggests Four Ways to Gain a More Comprehensive Picture of Equity. (2010). The Education Trust. Retrieved January 10, 2011 from: http://www.edtrust.org/sites/edtrust.org/files/publications/files/NAEP%20Gap_0.pdf

Para nuestros niños: Expanding and Improving Early Education for Hispanics

Author: National Task Force on Early Childhood Education for Hispanics

Summary: This report details how increased participation in pre-K programs would benefit ELL students, especially Hispanic ELLs. It has an extensive set of recommendations for a number of different types of policymakers. The report also contains a demographic profile of young Hispanic children, a report on Hispanic educational performance patterns, and some strategies to accelerate progress for ELLs.

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Tags: Instructional Programs; Latino ELL Students; Phonics; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Preschool

Research Questions the Report Poses: What steps can be taken to increase access to pre-K and early childhood programs for ELLs, particularly Hispanic ELLs?

Findings:

  • Hispanic students have been achieving more and more over the past three generations.
  • o Hispanic students born in the US do better on achievement tests than immigrant Hispanic children
  • Hispanic students are still overrepresented among low-achieving students.
  • Achievement among Hispanic students varies widely according to country of origin. South Americans and Cubans perform almost as well as White and Asian students, while Mexican-American students are far below White achievement levels
  • High quality infant/toddler programs, pre-K programs, and K-3 schooling can contribute to meaningfully higher levels of school readiness and school achievement among low SES students, including low SES Hispanics.
  • R&D is needed to provide better early childhood education for Hispanics. This includes developing and testing new programs, methods, and approaches that are tailored to fit the needs of Hispanic students.

Policy Recommendations:
Recommends that State Governments:

  • Expand and increase infant/toddler programs in their states that serve or could potentially serve large numbers of Hispanic families.
  • Continue to expand state-funded pre-K initiatives in an effort to have voluntary universal pre-K systems in most states within 10-20 years.
  • Increase efforts to disseminate information to Hispanic parents about available pre-K programs.
  • Increase funding for voluntary multi-year summer programs for students with low SES.
  • Create programs to draw more ELL and bilingual educators.
  • Increase pay and benefit levels for pre-K teachers and administrators so that they are equal to their public school counterparts.
Recommends that the federal government:
  • Expand the Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
  • Invest resources to designing, testing, and evaluating pre-K and K-3 language and literacy development strategies.
  • Fund program testing that will yield more bilingual and ELL teachers.
  • Create assessments for ELLs at the pre-K level in both Engish and Spanish.
  • Increase longitudinal studies on Hispanics and other groups who achieve below US norms.
  • Increase US participation in international assessments.
Recommends for private foundations:
  • Fund long-term efforts to design, test, and evaluate pre-K and K-3 language and literacy development strategies for Hispanics from all SES levels and from immigrant/nonimmigrant families.
  • Create foundations that can help provide the above funding.
Recommends that Hispanic organizations:
  • Create recommendations for new approaches to infant/toddler, pre-K, and K-3 programs for Hispanic students.
  • Create proposals on how state governments can increase their ELL/bilingual educators.
  • Create literacy development information, materials, and other parental supports.

Para nuestros niños: Expanding and Improving Early Education for Hispanics. (2007). National Task Force on Early Childhood Education for Hispanics.

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

Processes and Challenges in Identifying Learning Disabilities Among English Language Learner Students in Three New York State Districts

Author: M. T. Sanchez; U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences

Summary: The study examines practices for identifying learning disabilities among students who are ELLs and the challenges that arise among three New York State districts.

Show research findings and policy recommendations

Tags: Placement; Struggling Readers;

Target Population: All

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • According to district and school personnel in three midsize New York State districts, what processes are used to identify students who are English language learners and also have learning disabilities?
  • What challenges do those district administrators and school personnel describe about the process of identifying learning disabilities among students who are ELLs?

Findings:
Eight challenges in identifying learning disabilities among ELL students:

  • Difficulties with policy guidelines.
  • Different stakeholder views about timing for referral of students who are English language learners.
  • Insufficient knowledge among personnel involved in identification.
  • Difficulties providing consistent, adequate services to students who are English language learners.
  • Lack of collaborative structures in prereferral.
  • Lack of access to assessments that differentiate between second language development and learning disabilities.
  • Lack of consistent monitoring for struggling students who are English language learners.
  • Difficulty obtaining students' previous school records.

Policy Recommendations:
Analysis of the differences in the prereferral and referral processes and of the challenges identified in the three districts suggests five interrelated elements that appear to be important for avoiding misidentification of learning disabilities among students who are English language learners:

  • Adequate professional knowledge. Having access to professional expertise about cultural differences, language development, learning disabilities, and their intersection among classroom teachers, specialists, and administrators.
  • Effective instructional practices. Providing effective instruction to students who are English language learners before and during prereferral.
  • Effective and valid assessment and interventions. Providing valid assessments and effective intervention strategies.
  • Interdepartmental collaborative structures. Establishing structures for collaboration between the English language learner and special education departments, as well as opportunities for teachers to collaborate and problem solve in schools.
  • Clear policy guidelines. Providing streamlined and clear policy guidelines on procedures to follow and criteria to use in identifying learning disabilities among students who are English language learners.

Sanchez, M.T. (2010, February). Processes and Challenges in Identifying Learning Disabilities Among English Language Learner Students in three New York State Districts. U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved January 12, 2011 from: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/projects/project.asp?projectID=116

Reparable Harm: Fulfilling the Unkept Promise of Educational Opportunity for California's Long Term English Learners.

Author: L. Olsen. Californians Together.

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Tags: Fluency; Intervention; Language Proficiency; Placement; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills;

Target Population: Secondary, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: Which of the English learners are left behind? What steps can be taken to prevent this?

Findings:

  • The majority (59%) of secondary school English Learners are "Long Term English Learners" (in United States schools for more than six years without reaching sufficient English proficiency to be reclassified). In one out of three districts, more than 75% of their English Learners are Long Term.
  • California school districts do not have a shared definition of "Long Term English Learners." Most districts lack any definition or means of identifying or monitoring the progress and achievement of this population. Only one in four districts has a formal definition or designation for identifying, counting, serving or monitoring services for these students - and their definitions vary in the number of years considered "normative" for how soon English Learners should have reached proficiency (range from five to ten years).
  • English Learners become "Long Term" English Learners in the course of their schooling experience. Several factors seem to contribute to becoming a Long Term English Learner: receiving no language development program at all; being given elementary school curricula and materials that weren't designed to meet English Learner needs; enrollment in weak language development program models and poorly implemented English Learner programs; histories of inconsistent programs; provision of narrowed curricula and only partial access to the full curriculum; social segregation and linguistic isolation; and, cycles of transnational moves.
  • By the time Long Term English Learners arrive in secondary schools, there is a set of characteristics that describe their overall profile. These students struggle academically. They have distinct language issues, including: high functioning social language, very weak academic language, and significant deficits in reading and writing skills. The majority of Long Term English Learners are "stuck" at Intermediate levels of English proficiency or below, although others reach higher levels of English proficiency without attaining the academic language to be reclassified. Long Term English Learners have significant gaps in academic background knowledge. In addition, many have developed habits of non-engagement, learned passivity and invisibility in school. The majority of Long Term English Learners wants to go to college, and are unaware that their academic skills, record and courses are not preparing them to reach that goal. Neither students, their parents nor their community realizes that they are in academic jeopardy.

Olsen, L. (2010). Reparable Harm: Fulfilling the Unkept Promise of Educational Opportunity for California's Long Term English Learners. Californians Together. Retrieved January 6, 2011 from: http://www.californianstogether.org/

State Test Score Trends Through 2007-08: Has Progress Been Made in Raising Achievement for English Language Learners?

Author: N. Chudowsky, V. Chudowsky, Center on Education Policy (CEP)

Summary: This report "examines progress in raising achievement for English language learners…(and) describes the factors that make it difficult to accurately assess what ELLs know and can do."

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Tags: Intervention; Rights, Students; Struggling Readers;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What progress has been made in raising achievement among ELLs?

Findings:

  • Overall, the study finds that ELLs have made progress in reaching state proficiency benchmarks in reading and math in elementary, middle, and high school, although more gains were made at the elementary and middle school levels. In grade 4, increasing percentages of ELLs have reached three achievement levels-basic, proficient, and advanced- with the highest proportion of states making gains at the proficient level.
  • However, according to the study, very large differences in percentages proficient exist between ELLs and non-ELLs. In high school reading, for example, 27 states have differences of more than 30 percentage points between ELLs and non-ELLs, and 18 states have differences of more than 40 percentage points. Differences in test performance for high school students are smaller, however, in math than in reading.

Chudowsky, N. & Chudowsky, V. (2010, April 7). State Test Score Trends Through 2007-08: Has Progress Been Made in Raising Achievement for English Language Learners?. Center on Education Policy (CEP). Retrieved January 6, 2011 from: http://www.cep-dc.org/index.cfm?DocumentSubTopicID=34

Student Transience in North Carolina: The Effects of School Mobility on Student Outcomes Using Longitudinal Data

Author: National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research: Zeyu Xu, Jane Hannaway, and Stephanie D'Souza.

Summary: This article discusses the significance and reasons behind school mobility, its effects on all students, and the determined factors that encourage mobility during the school year. The authors highlight the negative effects of school mobility at any period of the school year, not only for the students who are moving, but also for the schools who frequently receive new students in their classroom. The article also shows current data obtained from states like North Carolina that have shown an increased rate in school mobility on Hispanic students.

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Tags: American Indian ELL Students; Asian ELL Students; Differentiated Instruction; Latino ELL Students; Other ELL Students (Middle Eastern, African, European, etc.); Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA; Rights, Parents; Rights, Students; Struggling Readers;

Target Population: Parents, teachers, and advocates of elementary and middle schools' education.

Research Questions the Report Poses: This article raises the question of the impact of school mobility and its negative effects on student's educational outcomes.

Findings:

  • Hispanic immigrants show the highest mobility rates in states like North Carolina and California.
  • Current data shows that a student and its family move from state to state more than three times a year during the first grades of elementary school.
  • The negative effect of constant moving is the disruption it causes in the new classroom and in the children involved in this moving process.

Policy Recommendations:

  • School districts should monitor students' mobility, especially those students who are moving constantly causing academic disruption in any new classroom.
  • School districts should also provide counseling to families who are flagged by mobility rates to ameliorate this situation and prevent constant moving.

To order a hard copy of the report, contact:
Hard copies can be ordered from CALDER and the Urban Institute.

Xu, Z., Hannaway, J., and D'Souza, S. (2009). Student Transience in North Carolina: The Effect of School Mobility on Student Outcomes Using Longitudinal Data. North Carolina: National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.

Students with Interrupted Education: A Challenge for New York City Public Schools

Author: Advocates for Children of New York

Summary: Within ELLs there is a sub-population known as SIFEs. These students face extensive challenges once they enter schools. With SIFEs making up a significant portion New York City’s Public Schools already-struggling ELL population, new strategies are needed in order to ensure to success of those students.

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Tags: Bilingual Instruction; Bilingualism / Biliteracy; Differentiated Instruction; Fluency; Instructional Programs; Intervention; Language of Instruction; Language Proficiency; Placement; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: How accommodated are Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFEs) in NYC public schools? Why SIFEs are struggling academically and what are can be done to improve it?

Findings:

  • SIFEs often have poor literary skills in any language, and are likely behind their age level in knowledge-content.
  • SIFEs have complex social and psychological needs due to multiple factors including migration, unfamiliarity with surroundings, etc.
  • SIFEs need more English language support, and often more individualized instruction to make progress.
  • SIFEs lack foundational skills for academic work in English and in most cases their native language.
  • Many SIFEs are not steered towards programs that can help them, and the schools they are placed in don't have the resources to teach them properly.
  • Many SIFEs as often classified as having disabilities when cases show that this is typically not the case.

Students with Interrupted Education: A Challenge for New York City Public Schools. (2010, May). Advocates for Children of New York. Retrieved July 28, 2010 from http://advocatesforchildren.org/SIFE%20Paper%20final.pdf

Summer Reading Loss

Author: Mraz, M. and Rasinski, T.V.

Summary: Children who do not practice their reading skills during the summer often return to school in the fall reading at a lower level than when they left for summer vacation. In Summer Reading Loss, Maryann Mraz and Timothy Rasinski point out that children from low-income families are particularly at risk for summer reading loss, which serves to widen the achievement gap between these children and children from middle-class families. In this article, the authors provide a brief review of existing research on summer reading loss, and they discuss what schools and families can do to combat this problem.

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Tags: Books and Other Reading Materials; Libraries; Parent Involvement and Outreach / PTA; Reading; Struggling Readers;

Target Population: Elementary

Research Questions the Report Poses:

  • How does summer loss affect students' reading achievement?
  • Why does summer reading loss occur?
  • What can be done to curb summer reading loss?
  • What elements contribute to family literacy participation?

Findings:

  • While reading and academic gains during the school year are comparable among student groups, studies and tests show that reading loss is much more significant in low-income students, which ultimately contributes to a widening achievement gap as they progress into higher grades.
  • Summer reading loss seems to have its greatest impact on low-achieving students and at-risk students-those who can least afford to fall further behind.
  • Access to reading materials is a vital element in enhancing the reading development of children, but low-income students experience several barriers to reading at home.
  • It is not enough to simply tell parents that it is important to read to children. Parents, particularly lower socioeconomic-status parents, need concrete, specific programs, suggestions on how to participate in family literacy, and support.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Parent workshops just before summer break.
  • Schools should coordinate with the local public library for their summer reading program.
  • Required summer reading list of 3-5 proven favorites for children, with adequate access to them for all students.
  • Reading Millionaires Program
  • TV programs and movies based on books can encourage reading; Parents can turn down the volume and turn on the captions so kids have to read.
  • Use daily routines as reading activities such as cooking, web surfing, reading directions in a manual, etc.

Mraz, M. and Rasinski, T.V. (2007). Summer reading loss. The Reading Teacher, 60(8). International Reading Association. 784-789.

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.

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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.

What Does Research Tell Us About Teaching Reading to English Language Learners?

Author: S. Irujo, The ELL Outlook

Summary: In this article, Suzanne Irujo discusses the findings of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth in the context of her own experience as an ELL teacher. Irujo organizes her discussion around the five essential components of reading instruction identified by the National Reading Panel (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) and offers specific recommendations for enhancing ELL reading instruction in each of those areas.

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Tags: Comprehension; Curriculum; Differentiated Instruction; Fluency; Instructional Programs; Intervention; Language Proficiency; Phonics; Phonological Awareness; Reading; Struggling Readers; Transfer of Literacy Skills; Vocabulary;

Target Population: Elementary, Middle, High School

Research Questions the Report Poses: What does research tell us about teaching reading to English Language Learners?

Findings:

  • Literacy in the native language is an advantage.
  • ELLs cannot develop phonological awareness in English until they are familiar with the sounds of English; once phonological awareness has developed in any language, it transfers to other languages that are learned.
  • Systematic phonics instruction can be very effective in helping ELLs learn to decode words: the most effective reading programs for ELLs combine systematic phonics instruction with a print-rich environment that provides exposure to appealing reading materials in varied genres.
  • ELLs cannot achieve fluency in oral reading before they have achieved fluency in speaking: self-consciousness about accents and errors can affect reading fluency.
  • ELLs need more vocabulary instruction than their native-speaking peers, with different vocabulary words and vocabulary teaching techniques.
  • ELLs are more likely than native speakers to lack the background knowledge necessary for understanding texts

Policy Recommendations:

  • Substantial coverage of the five essential elements of reading instruction-phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension-helps.
  • Reading programs for ELLs should include intensive language development as well as instruction in literacy strategies and skills.
  • Instruction needs to be adjusted to meet the needs of ELLs.

Irujo, S. (2007). What Does Research Tell Us About Teaching Reading to English Language Learners? Haverhill, MA: The ELL Outlook.