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Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures (2017)

Chapter: 7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12

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Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
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7

Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12

This chapter begins with a discussion about connecting effective programs for dual language learners (DLLs) with effective programs and practices for English learners (ELs).1 It then provides an overview of the English-only and bilingual programs that serve ELs in grades pre-K to 12 and the evaluation research that compares outcomes for ELs instructed in English-only programs with ELs instructed in bilingual programs. This is followed by a review of the research on instructional practices for developing ELs’ oral language proficiency in grades K-12. Next, the chapter reviews district-wide practices related to the educational progress of ELs and examines the role of family engagement in ELs’ educational success. The chapter ends with conclusions.

Attention to how ELs are faring in grades pre-K to 12 comes at a pivotal time in American education. Schools throughout the nation are teaching to higher curricular standards in core subject areas—English language arts, social studies, mathematics, and science (Bunch, 2013; Cantrell et al., 2009; Echevarria et al., 2011; Lara-Alecio et al., 2012). All students, including ELs, are expected to engage with academic content that is considerably more demanding than in previous years, and they must now demonstrate deeper levels of understanding and analysis of that content.

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1 When referring to young children ages birth to 5 in their homes, communities, or early care and education programs, this report uses the term “dual language learners” or “DLLs.” When referring to children ages 5 and older in the pre-K to 12 education system, the term “English learners” or “ELs” is used. When referring to the broader group of children and adolescents ages birth to 21, the term “DLLs/ELs” is used. (See Box 1-1 in Chapter 1 for details.)

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

ELs face the dual tasks of achieving English proficiency while mastering grade-level academic subjects.

CONNECTING EFFECTIVE PROGRAMS FOR DUAL LANGUAGE LEARNERS BIRTH TO AGE 5 WITH ENGLISH LEARNERS IN PRE-K TO 12

Research on children’s learning, programs, and policies follows a divide between early learning programs (birth to 5) and pre-K to 12 education (ages 3 to 21) in the United States (Takanishi, 2016). To address this gap, the U.S. Department of Education has issued nonregulatory guidance on how states can better connect their early education programs with pre-K to 12 education, as proposed under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (see Chapter 2 for more detail).

The evidence is now clear that becoming proficient in English and able to perform at grade level in core academic subjects in English takes time and occurs over several grades (see Chapter 6) (Thompson, 2015; Umansky and Reardon, 2014; Valentino and Reardon, 2015). Given findings that the levels of proficiency in an EL’s home language and in English at school entry are related to the time to English proficiency in the K-12 grades (Thompson, 2015), more attention is needed to how the early grades, especially K-5, build the academic language that young children need to be successful in school. The Sobrato Early Academic Literacy (SEAL) Program is an example of a pre-K to grade 3 approach that educates ELs in predominantly English settings as well as in those that are bilingual (see Box 7-1).

ENGLISH-ONLY AND BILINGUAL APPROACHES TO INSTRUCTION

This section first describes the program models used to teach ELs and then turns to findings from the evaluation research that compares outcomes for ELs taught primarily in English-only programs with ELs taught in bilingual programs. The committee notes that implementation of the programs described varies depending on attention to the professional development of educators (see Chapter 12) and to issues of fidelity of implementation (e.g., O’Donnell, 2008). Program labels may not accurately reflect what teachers do and what students experience in classrooms.

Program Models

The two broad approaches used to teach ELs English in grades pre-K to 12 are (1) English as a second language (ESL) approaches, in which English is the predominant language used for instruction, and (2) bilingual

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

approaches, in which English and students’ home languages are used for instruction. Each approach has various models (Faulkner-Bond et al., 2012) (see Table 7-1). The three models that provide instruction predominantly in English are the ESL model, the content-based ESL model, and the sheltered instruction model. “In ESL instructional programs, ESL-certified teachers provide explicit language instruction that focuses on the development of proficiency in English. In content-based ESL instructional programs, ESL-certified teachers provide language instruction that uses subject matter content as a medium for building language skills. In sheltered instructional programs, teachers provide instruction that simultaneously introduces both language and content using specialized techniques to accommodate DLL’s linguistic needs” (Faulkner-Bond et al., 2012, pp. x-xiii).

The two models that provide bilingual instruction are the transitional bilingual education (TBE) model and the dual language (DL) model (Boyle et al., 2015). In TBE programs, students typically begin learning in their home language in kindergarten or grade 1 and transition to English incrementally over time. In TBE programs, while the L1 is used to leverage English, the goal is to achieve English proficiency as quickly as possible. In early-exit TBE programs, ELs generally exit prior to grade 3.

DL instructional programs vary in structure, implementation, and enrolled student populations. Unlike TBE programs, where the goal is English proficiency, DL programs aim to help students develop high levels of language proficiency and literacy in both program languages. Additionally, they aim to help students attain high levels of academic achievement and develop an appreciation for and understanding of multiple cultures (Boyle et al., 2015). There are two types of DL instructional programs. The first is a one-way dual language program that serves predominantly one group of students. The students served may be ELs who are acquiring English and developing their L1. Two other groups also can be served by this type of program: (1) predominantly English-speaking students who are developing their English and acquiring a world language, and (2) predominantly heritage language learners. The second type of DL program is a two-way DL program in which ELs and English-speaking peers receive instruction in both English and the ELs’ L1 in the same classes (also called the partner language in these programs).

Findings from Evaluation Research

Syntheses of studies that compare outcomes for ELs instructed in English-only programs with outcomes for ELs instructed bilingually have found either that there are no differences in outcomes measured in English or that ELs in bilingual programs outperform those instructed only in English when outcomes are measured in English (and in the partner lan-

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×
Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×
Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

TABLE 7-1 Approaches to Teaching English Learners (ELs) in Pr-K to Grade 12

Program Names Program Description Teacher Description Goals Format
English as a Second Language Approaches
English as a Second Language (ESL)

Alternative Names: English Language Development (ELD), English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

ELs are provided with explicit language instruction to develop their language proficiency. ESL-certified teachera English proficiency, including grammar, vocabulary, and communication skills Students may have a dedicated ESL class in their school day or may receive pull-out ESL instruction, wherein they work with a specialist for short periods during other classes.
Content-based English as a Second Language ELs are provided with language instruction that uses content as a medium for building language skills. Although using content as a means, instruction is still focused primarily on learning English. ESL-certified teacher Academic achievement, proficiency in English Students may have a dedicated ESL class in their school day or may receive pull-out ESL instruction, wherein they work with a specialist for short periods during other classes.
Sheltered Instruction (SI)

Alternative Name: Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE)

Instruction for ELs focuses on the teaching of academic content rather than the English language itself. Teacher uses specialized techniques to accommodate ELs’ linguistic needs. Likely to be a general education teacher but may be an ESL-certified teacher Academic achievement, proficiency in English Generally used in EL-only classrooms, designed specifically for ELs.
Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×
Bilingual Approaches
Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE)

Alternative Name: Early-Exit Bilingual Education

ELs begin in grade K or 1 by receiving instruction all or mostly in their first language (L1) and transition incrementally to English during the primary grades but may exit as late as grade 5. L1 is used to leverage second language (L2) acquisition, but L1 proficiency is not a program goal. Teachers proficient in both English and the L1 and certified for teaching the particular grade level and bilingual education Academic achievement, proficiency in English Balance of L1 and L2. Some TBE programs begin with L1 exclusively, others begin with a majority of L1 and use some L2. The division of the languages across instructional time and content areas may vary from program to program.
One-Way Dual Language Program

Alternative Names: Late-Exit Bilingual; Maintenance Bilingual; Developmental Bilingual Education (DBE)

Students are predominantly from one primary language group. The different kinds of language groups that can be served in these programs are ELs learning their home language and English; English-proficient students learning English and a world language; and heritage language learnersb studying English and their heritage language (e.g., French, Navajo). May be bilingual teachers, or teachers who teach in English who use sheltered instruction techniques to make their instruction accessible for ELs Academic achievement, proficiency in English, bilingualism and biliteracy, cross-cultural understanding Students typically begin in grade K or 1. Regardless of when or whether students attain proficiency in English, the program is designed to keep them enrolled through its completion (typically, the end of elementary school). continued
Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×
Program Names Program Description Teacher Description Goals Format
Two-Way Dual Language Program

Alternative Names: Dual Immersion (DI), Two-Way Immersion (TWI)

Students are ELs and English-proficient students, ideally in a 50-50 mix. May be bilingual teachers who use sheltered instructional techniques to make content comprehensible or who team teach, where one teacher communicates in English and one communicates in the second language Academic achievement, proficiency in English, bilingualism and biliteracy, biculturalism, cross-cultural understanding Balance of L1 and L2. Programs follow either 50:50 model or 90:10 model (which ultimately transitions to 50:50). Programs may balance languages by dividing instructional time according to content area, class period, instructor, week, or unit. The program is designed to keep them enrolled through its completion, in some cases through high school graduation.

a As used here, an ESL-certified teacher is a teacher with a license, credential, and/or certification to provide English language instruction to second language learners. Different states and districts may use different naming conventions to refer to this kind of instructor.

b A heritage language learner is a person studying a language who has some proficiency in or a cultural connection to that language through family, community, or country of origin. Heritage language learners have widely diverse levels of proficiency in the language (in terms of oral proficiency and literacy) and of connections to the language and culture. They are different in many ways from students studying the language as a foreign language.

SOURCE: Selected data from http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/title-iii/language-instruction-ed-programs-report.pdf [January 20, 2017].

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

guage if the control group includes speakers of partner languages and outcomes are measured in those languages). For meta-analyses of the research, see Faulkner-Bond et al. (2012), Francis et al. (2006), Greene (1997), Rolstad et al. (2005), Slavin and Cheung (2005), and Willig (1985). For reviews of the research, see Rossell and Baker (1996), Lindholm-Leary and Borsato (2006), Genesee and Lindholm-Leary (2012), and.

The committee calls attention to two studies that followed students in programs with different models for language of instruction for sufficient time to gauge the longer-term effects of language of instruction on EL outcomes. Umansky and Reardon (2014) examined the effects of several programs, including TBE, developmental bilingual education (DBE), English immersion (EI), and dual immersion (DI), on reclassification rates using administrative data on Latino EL kindergarten entrants to California public schools in the 2000s. Students were followed through grade 11. The study aimed to control for selection biases by holding relevant student and school characteristics constant. The study found that “two-language programs, especially those that focus on home language acquisition in the early grades, may result in longer durations of EL status prior to reclassification” (p. 906). However, the study also found that ELs in bilingual/DL programs have a higher long-term likelihood of becoming proficient in English, meeting an English language arts threshold, and being reclassified relative to ELs in English-only programs.

Using the same data and research design with additional controls for parental preferences, Valentino and Reardon (2015) examined the effect of these same programs on ELs’ English language arts and math achievement in middle school. The study compared students with the same parental preferences and found substantial differences in the short- versus long-term effects of the different instructional models. According to the authors, “By second grade, ELs in DI classrooms have ELA [English language arts] test scores that are well below those of their peers in EI [English instruction] classrooms. At the same time, ELs in TB programs have test scores well above those of ELs in EI on both ELA and math, and those in DB have math test scores that are significantly higher than their peers in DI. However, by seventh grade, students in DI and TB programs have much higher ELA scores than those in EI classrooms” (p. 30). Explanations for short- versus long-term effects may be that ELs in DI programs spend more of their time in the early grades learning in their home languages and that assessments to measure math and English language arts may be administered in English. A second notable result is that the test scores of ELs in DI programs far outpace those of ELs in other programs. The authors hypothesize that this may be due to the opportunity in DI programs for ELs to interact with English-speaking peers and the fact that instruction in content in their home language helps ensure that ELs do not fall behind in grade-level subjects.

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

Moreover, continued development in the home language provides opportunities for transfer from that language to English.

Research also has begun to explore the relationship between classroom language use configurations and student outcomes. A qualitative study (Soltero-González et al., 2016) found that paired literacy instruction led to stronger literacy outcomes in both languages relative to sequential literacy instruction in which children learn mostly in their partner language first and then transition to English. However, debates about the most appropriate approaches to language instruction are ongoing. For example, drawing on the second language acquisition literature, some guidance calls for the separation of languages. This means that teachers and students are expected to use mostly one language or another in any given lesson (Howard et al., 2007). Others argue for an approach to bilingualism that allows for the mixing of languages within a classroom. Proponents of this approach, called translanguaging (García, 2009), claim that individuals with two or more languages benefit from drawing on all of their linguistic resources in classrooms (García, 2009). Studies are needed to compare the effects of the two approaches on ELs’ language, literacy, and content area outcomes.

Some research related to language of instruction for ELs has been limited by selection bias because the preferences of administrators, teach-

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

ers, parents, and sometimes children play a role in determining which type of instruction a student receives (Francis et al., 2006; Slavin and Cheung, 2005), as well as by the failure to take into account factors other than type of programming that might influence outcomes. Box 7-2 lists factors that need to be considered in interpreting findings from studies that compare one type of program model with another, while Box 7-3 summarizes a case study of one K-12 DL school.

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×
Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

THE DEVELOPMENT OF ORAL LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY IN ENGLISH LEARNERS IN GRADES K-12

This section reviews the research on instructional methods intended to develop oral English proficiency in ELs. The committee defines oral language proficiency as both receptive and expressive oral language, as well as specific aspects of oral language including phonology, oral vocabulary, morphology, grammar, discourse features, and pragmatic skills (August and Shanahan, 2006). There is some theoretical basis for this definition. Oral language differs from written language because of the differences between the physical nature of speech and writing. Speech provides auditory information, while writing provides visual information; speech is temporary, while writing is permanent; and speech has prosodic features (rhythm, stress, and intonation) that writing does not (Schallert et al., 1971). The committee also includes multiple aspects of oral language in one construct because recent empirical research indicates that all the frequently tested oral language constructs (including phonological awareness) cluster together, at least until about grade 3, when there is a split between lexical and grammatical features (Foorman et al., 2015; Language and Reading Research Consortium, 2015). Findings from this research appear to indicate that children learn words and patterns for combining words from the same social interactions. The words are analyzed, recognized, and stored as phonological patterns, but they are associated with information about co-occurrences that give grammatical information (e.g., nouns follow “a” and “the”; verbs take “ed”), so although the trajectory to mastery may be different for different elements of the system, the interconnections are there from the beginning.

The committee focused on oral language proficiency as a construct because of its important role in content area learning for ELs (August and Shanahan, 2006; Saunders et al., 2013). Evidence for its importance comes from the effect sizes for literacy outcomes for ELs compared with English-proficient students. In a review of the literature on literacy development, the effect sizes for EL outcomes were lower and more variable than those for English-proficient students exposed to the same literacy interventions, and sizable positive reading comprehension outcomes for ELs across the studies were relatively rare (August and Shanahan, 2006, p. 447). This led the authors to hypothesize that ELs’ limited oral proficiency was impeding their ability to benefit from the literacy instructional routines, especially those focused on text-level skills such as reading comprehension.

The studies in this review measured phonological awareness, oral reading fluency and accuracy, receptive and expressive vocabulary, listening comprehension, grammar and syntax, and other linguistic features

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

of English. Interventions had to focus wholly or in part on developing oral language proficiency and also had to include outcome measures of oral language proficiency. Other parameters for inclusion were that studies focused on students in grades K-12 who were learning English as a second language in the United States or other countries where English is the national language. The committee drew on studies located through systematic database searches of peer-reviewed journals using keywords for the parameters of interest; on intervention studies reported in previous syntheses that focused on instructed second language learning (e.g., Ammar and Spada, 2006; Carrier, 2003; Greenfader et al., 2015; Mackey and Oliver, 2002; O’Brien, 2007; Saunders et al., 2006; Tong et al., 2008); and on studies focused on developing oral proficiency as a component of reading or language arts instruction (e.g., Calhoon et al., 2007; Crevecoeur et al., 2014; Scientific Learning Corporation, 2004; Silverman and Hines, 2009; Solari and Gerber, 2008; Uchikoshi, 2005; Vaughn et al., 2006a, 2006b).

The committee found very few studies that met these parameters. Most studies that focused on instructed second language proficiency cited in previous syntheses (Dixon et al., 2012; Ellis, 2005; Jeon, 2007; Norris and Ortega, 2000; Saunders et al., 2013; Saunders and O’Brien, 2006; Taguchi, 2015) were conducted with adult learners or learners who were children acquiring foreign or other-than-English second languages, precluding their inclusion in this review. Some studies focused on developing these skills in ELs but did not measure these constructs as outcomes (e.g., August et al., 2009, 2014; Lesaux et al., 2010, 2014), in many cases because the studies included older children in the samples, and as children grow older, they are given assessments that require reading and writing. It is important that future intervention studies focused in part on oral language development measure it as an outcome.

From the very limited available research, the committee draws tentative inferences about the kinds of instructional practices that are beneficial for promoting oral language proficiency. Before reviewing findings related to promising practices, it is important to note that while some of the studies included in this review encouraged the kinds of classroom discourse that are aligned with new language proficiency standards (e.g., comprehending classroom discourse; speaking about grade-appropriate complex literacy and informal texts and topics; constructing grade-appropriate oral claims and supporting them with evidence; and adapting language choices to purpose, task, and audience when speaking), some did not, and virtually no studies measured ELs’ discourse in these areas.

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

Recommended Instructional Practices to Develop Oral Language Proficiency

Practice 1: Provide Specialized Instruction Focused on Components of Oral Proficiency

Across the studies included in this review, explicit instruction in oral language components was found to be beneficial; it led to students acquiring these component skills to higher levels relative to students in the control groups who were not exposed to the interventions. ELs in the primary grades who were struggling readers benefited from instruction that developed their phonological awareness skills (e.g., Ransford-Kaldon et al., 2010; Scientific Learning Corporation, 2004; Solari and Gerber, 2008; Vaughn et al., 2006a). In one study (Vaughn et al., 2006a), this was the case for instruction in English as well as Spanish. The promising practices in these studies provided practice in phoneme discrimination, phoneme segmentation, and blending.

Explicit in-depth vocabulary teaching was beneficial for developing vocabulary knowledge and skills. For example, two studies that focused on kindergarten children (Crevecoeur et al., 2014; Silverman and Hines, 2009) provided direct instruction of vocabulary in the context of story reading. The Crevecoeur et al. (2014) study explored the effects of multimedia enhanced instruction in the form of videos aligned with the book themes (habitats). It found that the multimedia support had a positive effect on vocabulary acquisition for ELs but had no such effect for students who were English-proficient.

Several studies focused on text-level skills such as listening comprehension. One study (Uchikoshi, 2005) was successful in building kindergarten ELs’ auditory comprehension and narrative skills through exposure to a high-quality children’s television program that presented stories with a plot, conflict, and resolution. Narrative skills were measured by the number of words and mean clause length in stories children told based on slides that represented the story plot. Children’s stories also were coded for story structure, number of main events, evaluation, temporality, reference, and storybook language. A second study conducted with kindergarteners (Solari and Gerber, 2008) found that instruction in summarizing text, identifying the main ideas in text, recalling textual facts, and making predictions and inferences resulted in improvements in listening comprehension (Solari and Gerber, 2008).

A third study (Greenfader et al., 2015) that improved the speaking skills of ELs in grades K-2 implemented a year-long drama and creative movement intervention that used movement, gesture, and expression to stimulate engaging in English verbal interactions. Language skills targeted

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

were vocabulary, dialoging, story construction, and story recall. The students in the treatment group outperformed those in the control group who did not receive the intervention on the California English Language Development Test, a standardized language proficiency test used throughout California. Findings from this study also indicate that ELs with the most limited abilities at baseline benefited the most. A fourth study (Tong et al., 2008) made enhancements to two types of language instruction educational programs—transitional bilingual programs and structured immersion programs. A multifaceted approach was used that included daily tutorials in intensive English, storytelling and retelling that emphasized higher-order thinking skills, and a teacher-directed academic oral language activity. ELs in the intervention developed oral language proficiency (indexed by measure of expressive vocabulary as well as listening comprehension) at faster rates than students in the control groups.

A fifth study (Scientific Learning Corporation, 2004) was successful in building the auditory comprehension of elementary school ELs who were identified as at risk through Fast ForWord, an adaptive computer training program that uses games to train acoustic reception abilities and improve semantic and syntactic skills. In a sixth exploratory study, high school ELs who participated in listening strategy instruction (Carrier, 2003) showed significant improvements between pre-and posttests in discrete and video listening ability on assessments that measured discrete and video listening skills.

Several themes emerge from the above studies that are consistent with previous reviews of instructed second language acquisition (Ellis, 2005; Saunders and Goldenberg, 2010). First, as noted above, specialized instruction in components of oral language proficiency led to better outcomes for students in intervention groups compared with controls. Second, in most of the studies, oral language components were taught explicitly. Third, while this was the case, in these studies the language components were taught in language-rich environments such as read-alouds of narrative and informational texts (e.g., Crevecoeur et al., 2014). Finally, efforts were made to address the specialized needs of ELs learning content in a second language. Instruction in English was made comprehensible through such methods as multimedia use (Silverman and Hines, 2009); children’s television (e.g., Uckikoshi, 2005); on-screen animation (e.g., Scientific Learning Corporation, 2004); movements and gestures (e.g., Greenfader et al., 2015); dramatization and movement (e.g., Tong et al., 2008); ongoing clarification of word meanings in multiple contexts before, during, and after reading (e.g., Crevecoeur et al., 2014); and ongoing questioning and discussion about the content presented (e.g., Solari and Gerber, 2008; Tong et al., 2008).

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

Practice 2: Provide Opportunities for Interaction with Speakers Proficient in the Learner’s Second Language

Reviews of instructed second language learning (Dixon et al., 2012; Ellis, 2005; Saunders and Goldenberg, 2010) highlight the importance of interaction between second language learners and learners proficient in their second language. Several of the studies cited in the previous section provided structured opportunities for ELs to engage with English-proficient speakers (e.g., Calhoon et al., 2007; Silverman and Hines, 2009; Solari and Gerber, 2008). In one study (Greenfader et al., 2015), part of the lesson was dedicated to peer-to-peer interactions involving discussion and dramatization related to stories that had been read. Speaking is important because it generates feedback, forces syntactic processing, and challenges students to engage at higher proficiency levels (Johnson and Swain, 1997; Saunders and Goldenberg, 2010). It also generates more input, and substantial differences in the rate of second language acquisition are related to the amount and quality of the input students receive (Ellis, 2012).

A qualitative study by O’Day (2009) found that while coefficients for opportunities to engage in discussion with peers in the classroom are positive for both ELs and English-proficient students with regard to reading comprehension, the magnitude is small and insignificant for English-proficient students but large and significant for ELs. Some evidence suggests that for peer interactive activities to be effective, they must be carefully planned and carried out (Saunders and Goldenberg, 2010).

Practice 3: Engage in Interactional Feedback

The relationship between interactional feedback and second language learning has been an important focus of research. While many of the studies reviewed created opportunities for interaction between ELs and native English speakers, two studies explicitly examined the types of interactional feedback during conversational interactions that support ELs’ language development. One study (Ammar and Spada, 2006) provides evidence that corrective feedback is beneficial. This quasi-experimental study investigated the benefits of two corrective feedback techniques—recasts and prompts—for 6th-grade ELs in Montreal acquiring English (Ammar and Spada, 2006). The intervention targeted third-person possessive determiners, “his” and “her,” a difficult aspect of English grammar for French ELs. One group was a control group, one group received corrective feedback from the teacher in the form of recasts, and the third group received corrective feedback from the teacher in the form of prompts. All three groups benefited, but the experimental groups benefited the most. An interesting finding is that high-

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

proficiency learners benefited equally from recasts and prompts, but low-proficiency learners benefited significantly more from prompts than recasts.

A second study (Mackey and Oliver, 2002) explored the effects of interactional feedback on the language development of 22 ELs in an intensive ESL center in Perth, Australia. The children ranged from ages 8 to 12 and were from a variety of L1 backgrounds. The children carried out communicative tasks in dyads with adult native English speakers. The experimental group received interactional feedback in response to their non-target-like production of question forms. That is, in the interaction and feedback group, children were engaged in tasks that provided context for the targeted structure to occur (e.g., story completion, picture sequencing). The child learners asked whatever questions were necessary to carry out the task, and the native speakers answered their questions and asked their own when necessary. Interactional feedback, including negotiation and recasts, was provided to the child learners. The control group carried out the same tasks as the interaction group but did not receive feedback. Results showed that the experimental group improved more than the control group in terms of question formation.

Practice 4: Dedicate Time for Instruction Focused on Oral English Proficiency

While research cited at the beginning of this section (August and Shanahan, 2006) suggests that oral language development is important in helping ELs succeed in text-level literacy skills (e.g., comprehension), several studies suggest that a daily block of time focused on the development of oral English language proficiency can be beneficial. One study (Saunders et al., 2006) found small positive effects on oral language proficiency for kindergarten children who received oral English language proficiency instruction during a separate block of time compared with similar children who received oral language proficiency instruction that was integrated with language arts instruction. A second study (O’Brien, 2007) found that 1st-grade Spanish-speaking ELs who received English language instruction in a separate English language development block using an explicit English language proficiency program outperformed ELs who were learning English language proficiency only as part of their language arts program. In a third study (Tong et al., 2008), a separate block of time in kindergarten and 1st grade was focused on direct teaching of English. ELs in this study outperformed control group students who did not have a separate block of time. It should be noted that this additional time block was only one component of a multifaceted approach to developing oral English language proficiency in ELs. While the research reviewed here indicates that additional time dedicated to developing oral language English language proficiency is ben-

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

eficial, additional research would help clarify whether differential outcomes are attributable to a separate time block or such associated factors as fewer students, more homogeneity in classroom composition, method of instruction, or increased time or dosage itself.

Interpreting the Research

In interpreting findings from the studies reviewed above, it is important to keep in mind that factors other than the instructional method itself influence the acquisition of oral language proficiency in school-age ELs (see Chapter 6). These factors include individual, family, and teacher characteristics (e.g., proficiency in the language of instruction, teaching experience and training); school and community contexts; the attributes of the assessments used to measure student outcomes; and whether the language acquired is a national or foreign language. The committee controlled for some of these factors by focusing on children who are learning English as a second language in countries where English is the national language. Other factors not controlled for completely in the studies cited also influence acquisition, including, for instance, children’s initial levels of proficiency in their L1 and English, home language literacy practices (e.g., Roberts, 2008), district and school support for instructed second language acquisition (August and Shanahan, 2006); and the specific types and characteristics of the linguistic features being taught (Boers and Lindstromberg, 2012) and measured as outcomes (Norris and Ortega, 2000).

DISTRICT-WIDE PRACTICES RELATED TO THE EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS OF ENGLISH LEARNERS

American education is characterized by its localism—there are nearly 13,500 school districts in the United States.2 Whereas states have authority over education, with a limited federal role (see Chapter 2), local school districts are where both federal and state policies are implemented, and district implementation becomes the prevailing education policy experienced by students. Available studies typically do not identify district factors that will help educators serve their ELs more effectively (Coleman and Goldenberg, 2010). However, having a coherent academic program in which administrators and teachers are focused on doing whatever it takes to ensure ELs’ academic success is the key overarching factor across studies (Coleman and Goldenberg, 2010). This section describes two district-wide efforts that

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2 According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ data for the 2013-2014 school year, see http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d15/tables/dt15_214.30.asp?current=yes [September 28, 2016].

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

improved outcomes for ELs. In one district, a mainly English approach was used; in the other, ELs were instructed bilingually.

Sanger Unified School District, California (K-12)

The first district example is the Sanger Unified School District. In 2004, Sanger was one of California’s 98 lowest-performing districts. In addition, the child poverty rate in California’s Central Valley was two to three times the national average. Fully 84 percent of the school district’s students were children of color, and 73 percent were living in poverty in 2010-2011; 22 percent of students were ELs. By 2011-2012, Sanger was one of the most improved districts in California (David and Talbert, 2012). Its ELs outperformed the state on gains in percentage of proficient or advanced on the California Standards Test (CST) in English language acquisition and math. This increase was almost double the state gain. In English language arts, Sanger ELs’ scores increased by 38 percentage points (from 11% to 49%) versus 20 points for the state (19% to 3%). In math, Sanger ELs’ scores increased by 43 percentage points (from 19% to 62%) versus 22 points for the state (27% to 49%). Gains for Sanger’s Hispanic students, students with disabilities, and socioeconomically disadvantaged students also were roughly double the state’s gains from 2003 to 2011 (David and Talbert, 2012).

In 2004, seven of Sanger’s schools and the district were deemed in need of improvement under provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. David and Talbert (2012) point out that prior to the improvement efforts, the district’s schools varied widely in their instructional approaches, with teachers functioning as “independent contractors,” guided by individual understandings of what constituted good practice. Further, the authors report that “adults (in the district) tend[ed] to blame the students and their families for poor academic performance” (p. 19).

Confronting Sanger’s own culture of low expectations for ELs was the first step in the district’s reform effort. The leadership team, beginning with the superintendent, decided that the focus had to change from the adults to the students, involving a major shift in the district’s culture. Superintendent Marc Johnson’s belief became the district’s mantra: “The only reason an adult is in this district is because it is a position that is necessary to support school learning” (p. 19). With that as a guiding premise, the blame for low student performance was placed on adults’ failure to provide adequate supports for learning.

Sanger’s transformation did not happen overnight. Its leadership recognized that any real improvement in students’ academic learning would require attention first to the adults who had to change their own attitudes, understandings, and practices. That meant shared responsibility—

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

“reciprocal accountability”—for necessary and continuous effort in delving more deeply into the work, being informed by analyses of student learning data, basing decisions about adjustments in instruction on these analyses, and ensuring that teachers were supported within professional learning communities where they could develop their capacity together. To sustain the effort, the district had to rely on growing its own leadership capacity within the ranks of the current educators who had been immersed in the work of the district and who understood local conditions.

A major shift involved how adults thought about what students needed to succeed and their expectations for students’ capacities to learn. Thus, diagnosing student needs and addressing them instructionally led to a mind shift that involved seeing instruction as supporting students’ academic development rather than as remediation for their lack of English language proficiency. Educators also were engaged in a developmental process and sought support from colleagues and administrators for improving their practices.

The district ultimately chose instructional strategies that were hardly revolutionary or innovative, a direct instruction approach “grounded in Madeleine Hunter’s elements of effective lessons,” which it adopted and adapted with training and support from Data Works. The success of this approach, which involves presenting information, modeling, checking for understanding, guided practice, closure, and independent practice, convinced the district that this was a suitable strategy for ELs requiring language support.

The most important aspect of this instructional strategy was its insistence on students working with grade-level appropriate materials rather than materials geared to their current level of English proficiency. The argument was that ELs would never reach grade-level proficiency levels, let alone exceed them, if they were taught using lower-level materials. To implement this approach required teacher-directed instruction with guided and independent practice.

An important element of this approach was that English language development support was provided according to proficiency levels during a specially designated English language development period each day; the main differentiation in these leveled classes was the degree of instructional support and scaffolding rather than the use of leveled materials. Additionally, the response to intervention approach the district had in place for its special education students was expanded to provide additional support for students, including ELs, who required more assistance than could be provided through regular instructional activities. Intensive instructional support was provided to students in small groups defined by need rather than by such categories as EL or special education. Students who needed help to strengthen decoding skills, for example, were grouped together for targeted

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

intervention for as long as needed, and were then moved out of that group when the ongoing assessments indicated they no longer needed such help.

Union City School District, New Jersey (pre-K to 12)

The rebirth of the Union City School District began with a 1-year reprieve from the state to set things right (Kirp, 2013). By school year 2013-2014, 95 percent of all students in the district had achieved proficiency (proficient plus advanced) both in English language arts and in math, and the high school had achieved a 100 percent graduation rate. At the time, the district’s 13 schools served 11,457 students, 95.7 percent of whom were Hispanic, mainly immigrants from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Central America. Twenty-four percent were designated ELs, and 95 percent were from low-income families, as indicated by participation in the free and reduced-price lunch program.

In education, everything connects, from the crucible of the classroom, to the interplay among teachers, to the principal’s skills as a leader, to the superintendent’s success in creating a coherent system from a host of separate schools, to politicians’ role in setting the limits of a school district’s autonomy. The first step in Union City’s rebirth was the selection of an administrator who was wise in the ways of the district, having served as its bilingual education supervisor in the past, to redesign the district’s educational plan instead of bringing in outside consultants for the job. He, in turn, engaged several teachers from the district with expertise in math, science, and English language arts to create a curriculum guided by the state’s standards. The curriculum redesign team reviewed the research on teaching and learning and insisted on one curriculum for everyone.

With state funding, the district offered free full-day pre-K programs with rich language and learning experiences both in students’ L1 and in English. Students at varying levels of skill and language proficiency worked on projects in groups at learning centers. Differentiated support was provided in these small groups according to need.

For the district to succeed, collaboration was necessary. A culture of caring and mutual respect was established among administrators and teachers at all levels, among teachers within schools, between teachers and students, and between educators and parents. Teachers recognized that in addition to instructional support, the children needed understanding, patience, and emotional support. They provided support that helped initially disruptive and uncooperative students gradually advance academically and take responsibility for helping fellow students in need of academic and emotional support.

The district’s turnaround was all the more impressive in that it relied not on replacing district personnel but on changing the beliefs and attitudes

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

of teachers and administrators who were already working in the district. The adoption of a new district-wide common curriculum and a pedagogical approach that allowed students to learn at their own pace was not an easy or quick process.

Kirp (2013, p. 208) concludes his study of Union City’s turnaround of its schools by identifying the following core principles:

  • putting students first and at the center of decision making;
  • investing in quality pre-K programs;
  • relying on a rigorous, consistent, and integrated curriculum implemented by all teachers;
  • diagnosing problems and finding solutions based on data on learning;
  • building a culture that emphasizes high expectations of students and mutual respect between educators and students and their families;
  • valuing stability and avoiding political drama; and
  • engaging in continuous improvement of classroom instruction.

Summary

The following promising practices emerge from the school and district profiles described above:

  • Administrative leadership at the district and school levels takes responsibility for initiating and sustaining instructional programs and practices that support the full academic development of all students, including ELs.
  • ELs are recognized as capable of learning whatever society expects all children to learn in school rather than as incapable of handling the school’s curriculum until they master English. This is a fundamental epistemological difference between schools that educate ELs successfully and those that do not.
  • Socioemotional support is provided for both teachers and students through the creation of learning communities. In the successful districts and schools described above, administrators recognized that educating students with complex and diverse needs could be very challenging for teachers, emotionally and physically. They, like their students, required collegial support from fellow teachers and administrators to accomplish all they were expected to do.
  • Teachers are encouraged to work collaboratively and support one another to improve instruction. In the cases described above, cross-disciplinary endeavors in planning and integrating instruction were
Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×
  • critical in supporting language and literacy development across the curriculum.

  • Language-rich classroom and school environments are promoted in which communication and self-expression are encouraged.
  • Teachers are linguistically, culturally, and pedagogically prepared to meet the academic and sociocultural needs of ELs.
  • Instruction is adapted based on frequent analysis of student performance in formative and summative assessments.
  • School and community partnerships are encouraged to augment and enrich classroom-based learning.

FAMILY ENGAGEMENT IN ENGLISH LEARNERS’ EDUCATION

This section describes the ways in which families engage with schools, the opportunities associated with involving families in the education of their EL children, and state and district practices for meeting these challenges. Family engagement in children’s education and in their schools can include attending parent-teacher conferences; engaging in communications among families, students, educators, and schools about the students or school programs; participating in the classroom or in school activities; becoming involved in school decisions; and providing familial support for academic achievement by emphasizing high aspirations and providing a home environment that supports learning outside of school (Epstein et al., 2002; Fan and Chen, 2001; National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 1997; Noel et al., 2016; Wilder, 2014).

The ways in which families engage with their children’s education change as children grow older—from talking, reading, and playing with the children when they are very young; to supporting them throughout their primary, middle, and high school years; to engaging in various activities both in school and at home, as well as in community and youth organizations (Harvard Family Research Project, 2014; Sibley and Dearing, 2014). In the middle and high school years, parent-teacher conferences and communications to families continue, but family roles evolve from providing direct support to encouraging their children to value education, having high aspirations for postsecondary education, and being engaged in classrooms and school activities (see the vignette in Box 7-4).

Additionally, the level of family engagement tends to decline as students move from the elementary grades to the succeeding levels of their education (Epstein and Sheldon, 2006). Part of this decline is explained by long-standing school policies and beliefs that as students grow older and more independent of their families, family activities to support classroom learning are less important than they are in elementary school. However, families of middle and high school students can be advocates for their

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

children and be assisted in accessing resources and information to help their children stay on track and meet the requirements for postsecondary institutions, whether they be 4-year colleges, apprenticeships, or workforce development programs.

Research indicates that engagement of families, including both English-speaking families and families of ELs, is associated with positive student outcomes, such as higher grades and test scores, higher language proficiency, better social skills, increased high school graduation rates, and enrollment in postsecondary education (Ferguson, 2008; Henderson and Mapp, 2002; Lindholm-Leary, 2015). Notably, immigrant parents in particular place a high value on the education of their children (Cooper et al., 1994) and on learning English themselves to provide better economic resources for their families (Public Agenda, 1998). More research is needed to examine the specific attributes of family engagement that support ELs at different grade levels and the influence of family engagement at each of these levels on ELs’ educational progress, particularly at the middle and high school levels.

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

Barriers to Family Engagement

Despite the potential benefits of family engagement, results from a national survey among families of K-12 students indicate lower rates of family engagement in school among EL than among English-speaking families (Noel et al., 2016). Among students with English-speaking parents, 77 percent had parents who reported attending a regularly scheduled parent-teacher conference, compared with 69 percent of students who had parents either one or both of whom spoke another language (Noel et al., 2015). Similarly, 78 percent of students with English-speaking parents had parents who reported attending a school or class event, and 45 percent had parents who volunteered, compared with only 62 percent and 29 percent, respectively, among EL families.

Barriers to family engagement for EL families include the misguided perception by school personnel that the families of ELs are disinterested in the education of their children (Ramirez, 2003; Shim, 2013; Souto-Manning and Swick, 2006; Xiong and Obiakor, 2013). For example, in interviews conducted with 37 teachers and assistant teachers in an elementary school, Souto-Manning and Swick (2006) found that most of the teachers attributed students’ lower performance to the parents’ lack of caring about their children’s education. To the contrary, studies indicate that the parents of ELs are just as likely as the parents of non-ELs to report that they want their children to succeed in school, understand the importance of school, and support their children’s school experience (Cooper et al., 1994; Glick and White, 2004; Goldenberg et al., 2001; Ji and Koblinsky, 2009; Noel et al., 2015; Sibley and Dearing, 2014; Tobin et al., 2013).

There are also practical barriers to parent involvement in school activities, including time constraints due to work schedules, transportation, child care, and the scheduling of meetings or events during times when families are unable to participate (Best and Dunlap, 2012; Rah et al., 2009; Tinkler, 2002; Tucker, 2014). In addition, schools may not be able to provide translation for the variety of languages spoken by families of ELs, especially those spoken by a small number of families (Tucker, 2014).

Some parents perceive that their education or proficiency in English is insufficient for them to assist in the classroom and may also find it difficult to communicate with teachers and school staff (Lindholm-Leary, 2001; Shim, 2013; Westrich and Strobel, 2013; Xiong and Obiakor, 2013) (see Box 7-5). Further, immigrant families may not understand a school system that is different from their own experiences in their countries of origin and may fear involvement because of their undocumented status (Panferov, 2010; Souto-Manning and Swick, 2006; Tarasawa and Waggoner, 2015; Waterman and Harry, 2008). EL families also report receiving less communication from their schools relative to non-EL families. In the same national

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

survey mentioned above (Noel et al., 2016), 88 percent of English-speaking households had parents who reported receiving written communications from the school, compared with 81 percent of households without English-speaking adults. Similarly, 59 percent of the total number of students, both in English- and non-English-speaking households, had parents who reported receiving written communications specifically about their child, compared with 46 percent of households without English-speaking adults.

Knowledge and Skills to Build Positive Relationships

For all families, regardless of language background, both the school and the family require knowledge and skills to build positive relationships (Mapp, 2012; Mapp and Kuttner, 2013). A recent review of 31 studies on family engagement3 found that a welcoming environment encourages family-school partnerships (Ferguson, 2008). Providing information on how to navigate the school system, hiring a parent-community liaison capable of communicating with the families of ELs, providing adult education

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3 Reviewed studies included those that focused on families with ELs and on a broad range of factors, including varied cultural and ethnic populations.

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

programs including English language classes for families, and establishing effective two-way communications were found to help build partnerships (Office of the Education Ombudsman, 2012; Rah et al., 2009; Tucker, 2014; Westrich and Strobel, 2013). The use of technology in the form of texting educational messages to parents has also been shown to be an effective way to provide families with regular tips to support the language development of young children in their own languages (Loeb and York, 2016).

At the state and district levels, findings from a 50-state survey (Education Commission of the States, 2015) indicate that states use a variety of levers to promote the engagement of families that include ELs. Ten of the 13 states that reported engagement policies for families with ELs had parent advisory committees at the district and/or school level. Examples of other state and district levers included district and school orientation sessions on state standards, assessments, school expectations, and general program requirements for EL programs for parents of students newly identified as ELs (New York); school support teams that included parents of ELs, in which ELs could discuss their educational and language needs (North Dakota); and the use of district-level language proficiency committees (in districts with special programming for ELs), which included a professional bilingual educator, a professional transitional language coordinator, a parent of an EL, and a campus administrator to review all pertinent information on ELs, make recommendations regarding program placement and advancement, review each EL’s progress at the end of the school year, monitor the progress of former ELs, and determine the appropriateness of programs that extend beyond the school year (Texas).

CONCLUSIONS

Conclusion 7-1: Syntheses of evaluation studies that compare outcomes for English learners (ELs) instructed in English-only programs with outcomes for ELs instructed bilingually find either that there is no difference in outcomes measured in English or that ELs in bilingual programs outperform ELs instructed only in English. Two recent studies that followed students for sufficient time to gauge longer-term effects of language of instruction on EL outcomes find benefits for bilingual compared with English-only approaches.

Conclusion 7-2: The following characteristics of instructional programs support English learners’ oral language development: specialized instruction focused on components of oral language proficiency, opportunities for interaction with speakers proficient in the second language, feedback to students during conversational interactions, and dedicated time for instruction focused on oral English proficiency.

Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
×

Conclusion 7-3: Despite the potential benefits of family engagement in schools, results from a national survey indicate lower rates of family engagement in K-12 schools for English learner (EL) families relative to English-speaking families. Promising methods for engaging families include creating a welcoming environment, providing orientation programs, using technology to enhance two-way communication, instituting district- and school-level parent advisory committees and school support teams that include parents of ELs to support ELs’ academic success and emotional well-being, and instituting adult education programs for parents of ELs.

Conclusion 7-4: Case studies of districts and schools that demonstrate their effectiveness in educating English learners (ELs) find that such districts and schools are led by superintendents and principals who foster a common commitment to high expectations for all students; invest in teacher collaboration and ongoing, focused professional development; implement a coherent instructional program for students; attend to the needs of ELs who are struggling to meet grade-level expectations; and engage families and communities.

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Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
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Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
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Suggested Citation:"7 Programs for English Learners in Grades Pre-K to 12." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24677.
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Educating dual language learners (DLLs) and English learners (ELs) effectively is a national challenge with consequences both for individuals and for American society. Despite their linguistic, cognitive, and social potential, many ELs—who account for more than 9 percent of enrollment in grades K-12 in U.S. schools—are struggling to meet the requirements for academic success, and their prospects for success in postsecondary education and in the workforce are jeopardized as a result.

Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures examines how evidence based on research relevant to the development of DLLs/ELs from birth to age 21 can inform education and health policies and related practices that can result in better educational outcomes. This report makes recommendations for policy, practice, and research and data collection focused on addressing the challenges in caring for and educating DLLs/ELs from birth to grade 12.

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