Language Diversity, School Learning, and Closing Achievement Gaps

A WORKSHOP SUMMARY

Melissa Welch-Ross, Rapporteur

Committee on the Role of Language in School Learning: Implications for Closing the Achievement Gap

Center for Education

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

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Melissa Welch-Ross, Rapporteur Committee on the Role of Language in School Learning: Implications for Closing the Achievement Gap Center for Education Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Govern­ ing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineer­ ing, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropri­ ate balance. This study was supported by Contract No 2008­2669 between the National Acad­ emy of Sciences and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number­13: 978­0­309­15386­7 International Standard Book Number­10: 0­309­15386­7 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624­6242 or (202) 334­3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2010). Language Diversity, School Learning, and Closing Achievement Gaps: A Workshop Summary. M. Welch­Ross, Rapporteur. Committee on the Role of Language in School Learning: Implications for Closing the Achievement Gap. Center for Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self­perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal govern ­ ment on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the char­ ter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstand ­ ing engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the fed ­ eral government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineer­ ing communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON THE ROLE OF LANGUAGE IN SCHOOL LEARNING: IMPLICATIONS FOR CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP Kenji Hakuta (Chair), Department of Education, Stanford University Donna Christian, Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, DC Jill de Villiers, Psychology and Philosophy Departments, Smith College Fred Genesee, Psychology Department, McGill University, Montreal Claude Goldenberg, Department of Education, Stanford University William Labov, Linguistics Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania Lynne Vernon-Feagans, Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Melissa Welch-Ross, Senior Program Officer and Rapporteur Mary Ann Kasper, Senior Program Assistant Dorothy Majewski, Administrative Assistant v

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Acknowledgments T his report is a summary of the discussion at a workshop convened by the National Research Council on October 15­16, 2009, at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The workshop was funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the National Research Council is grateful for the interest in and commitment to work on this topic. The workshop was planned by the Committee on the Role of Language in School Learning: Implications for Closing the Achievement Gap. The committee members identified presenters, organized the agenda, made presentations, and facilitated discussion; they did not participate in the writing of this report. The two­day workshop, summarized here reflects their diligent efforts in planning the workshop, the excellent presentations at the workshop, and the insightful comments of the many workshop participants. We also thank the many experts who participated in the workshop as presenters, panelists, paper authors, and discussants; their names appear in the agenda in an appendix (see Appendix A). Staff mem­ bers Viola Horek, Mary Ann Kasper, and Dorothy Majewski ably pro­ vided administrative support for the committee. We also thank Catherine Freeman who served as staff director in the initial stages of the project. The summary has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its vii

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viii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Alison Bailey, Psychological Studies in Edu­ cation Division, Department of Education, University of California, Los Angeles; Robert Bayley, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Davis; Joanne Carlisle, School of Education, University of Michigan; Claude Goldenberg, School of Education, Stanford University; Erika Hoff, Depart­ ment of Psychology, Florida Atlantic University; Susan H. Landry, Children’s Learning Institute, Texas Medical Center, Houston, Texas; Lourdes Ortega, ­ Department of Second Language Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa; and Robin Scarcella, Program in Academic English and ESL, University of California, Irvine. Although the reviewers provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the report, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by P. David Pearson, Graduate School of Edu ­ cation, University of California at Berkeley. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an inde­ pendent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the author and the institution.

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Contents 1 INTRODUCTION 1 Context: The Achievement Gaps, 2 Workshop Approach, 4 2 VOCABULARY AND BEYOND: DEVELOPING LANGUAGE FOR SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT 7 Vocabulary and Socioeconomic Status, 7 Vocabulary as a Process, 9 Functional Use of Language, 10 The Language of Schooling, 10 English­Language Learners, 12 The Linguistic Environment, 19 Discussion, 21 Vocabulary, 21 Academic Language, 21 Role of Families, 23 Peer Influences, 24 Teachers’ Expectations, 25 3 SUPPORTING PRESCHOOL LANGUAGE FOR SCHOOL LEARNING 27 A Developmental and Psychological Perspective, 27 Young Dual­Language Learners, 31 Interventions, 35 ix

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x CONTENTS Population Characteristics, 37 A Base for Future Research, 39 Discussion, 44 Environmental Factors, 44 Test Uses and Limitations, 44 4 LEARNING ACROSS LANGUAGES: SECOND­LANGUAGE LEARNERS AND DIALECT SPEAKERS 49 Explicit Grammar Instruction, 49 Explicit Instruction for Dialect Speakers, 52 A Cognitive Psychology Perspective, 55 Context for Language Acquisition, 58 An Educator’s Perspective, 60 Practical Issues in Applying the Research on Learning and Instruction, 62 5 LANGUAGE DIFFERENCES 69 Dialects and Nonstandard English, 69 Structural Differences, 70 Symbolic (Social and Psychological) Influences, 72 Historical Perspective, 73 Discussion, 75 African American English, 75 Latino Populations and Other Groups, 77 Deeper Understanding of Dialects, 79 Understanding Achievement Gaps, 80 6 REFLECTIONS ON RESEARCH AND PRACTICE 83 Aspects of Language to Study, 83 Research Issues, 85 Research to Practice, 87 REFERENCES 91 APPENDIXES A Workshop Agenda 97 B Biographical Sketches of Planning Committee Members and Staff 103