Conducting Rigorous Research Related to English Language Learners
Research Related to Improving Teaching and Learning for ELLs
AIR contributes to the research base about what works for ELLs by conducting rigorous studies focused on teaching and learning. Our experts also evaluate federal, state, and district policies and programming that affect ELLs and craft evidence-based recommendations related to these policies and programming.
EDTASS Pay for Success Feasibility Study
The Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) of the U.S. Department of Education has contracted with AIR for the EDTASS Pay for Success Feasibility Study.
The Pay for Success (PFS), approach begins with the identification of communities that are working to address a problem or promote a solution that have measurable influence on downstream social consequences. Once a community has been identified, a feasibility analysis is then conducted to examine the research evidence behind the proposed solution, the readiness of the site to implement the solution, the policy and funding landscape needed to support the cross-system approach and - essentially- the relative financial payoff to end payers based on different levels of success. Finally, once a site is deemed feasible for a PFS effort, a financing deal is negotiated among the stakeholders to fund the implementation of the solution, and a rigorous evaluation is done to measure the outcomes that will be used to trigger the success payment to the end payer(s).
For this one year project-funded through the U.S. Department of Education through the Office of English Language Acquisition, AIR will design a feasibility study to capture the current state of D/ELL programs. The feasibility phase of the PFS process will be used to identify places ready to implement effective strategies to reduce language barriers of Spanish-speaking PK-3rd students. The review will identify at least two high-performing sites that have the capacity to implement evidence-based or promising interventions for early learning dual language models and be determined to be able to have a PFS project take shape to help scale the interventions to reach more students, generating the types of outcomes that end-payer funders will value.
A Multisite Randomized Controlled Trial of Descubriendo la Lectura (DLL)
There is a pressing need for Spanish-language early intervention programs for students at risk of literacy failure. One such program is the Spanish reconstruction of Reading Recovery known as Descubriendo la Lectura (DLL). DLL offers one-on-one tutoring in Spanish for a period of 12 to 20 weeks for first-grade Spanish-speaking students who are experiencing substantial challenges with reading and writing. Promising findings from a previous experimental study of DLL suggest a need to study whether results can be replicated for a wider sample. The current study is a multisite randomized controlled trial to investigate the efficacy for DLL across a larger number of schools to examine longer term effects in both Spanish and English than in prior research; help document how differences across students, teachers, and schools explain variability in observed impacts; and examine the successes and challenges in replicating the program's processes and impacts.
Mastering math and the academic language of math is essential for all students, but especially for English Language Learners (ELLs) who are acquiring content knowledge and English proficiency concurrently. The goal of this three-year study is to enable sixth-grade Spanish-speaking ELLs to acquire the skills and knowledge they need to meet the new Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M) and Literacy in the Technical Subjects (CCSS-L). The first two years of the study use an iterative development process to refine the intervention, leading to a pilot study in the third and final study year.
Several members of the Center for ELLs have been involved in the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Study of Deeper Learning. This study is part of the foundation’s effort to promote deeper learning, including learning among the most economically disadvantaged students. The primary purpose of this mixed-methods study is to examine the ways in which schools provide opportunities for deeper learning and the impact these opportunities have on a wide variety of student outcomes, including postsecondary outcomes. Four participating schools —two network schools and two schools outside the networks—serve only ELL students, focusing on the education of students who have newly arrived to the country.
Evaluation of Roosevelt University’s Dual Language Teacher Leadership Program
AIR is evaluating the extent to which teachers who receive a master’s degree in dual language teacher leadership (DLTL) improve the practices and strategies they use to teach English learners. In particular, we will evaluate the graduates of a new DLTL master’s degree program developed by Roosevelt University in Chicago. To do so, AIR has developed a classroom observation protocol designed to capture best practices for teaching English learners in a dual language setting. We will observe program and comparison teachers from the Chicago Public Schools and four suburban Chicago districts before and after the year-long master’s program to determine whether DLTL degree recipients have significantly changed their classroom practices as a result of the program. Tuition waivers for teachers and AIR’s evaluation are funded by a National Professional Development Program grant to Roosevelt University from the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) at the U.S. Department of Education.
The California Department of Education contracted with AIR to provide information about the implementation and effects of Proposition 227 and the English Language Acquisition Program (ELAP), which provided funding to support instruction for ELLs. Using case studies, phone and written surveys, statistical analyses of student performance data, stakeholder interviews, and document reviews, AIR staff investigated federal- , state- , district- , and school-level factors that influenced the implementation of Proposition 227 and evaluated trends in student outcomes since its passage.
Evaluation of the Massachusetts Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners (RETELL) Initiative
Under this initiative, all core academic teachers in the state are required to complete comprehensive professional development in SEI methods by July 2016. With funding from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education AIR evaluated the pilot professional development program that was initiated under RETELL.
Study on English Language Learners in Massachusetts
The study funded by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education capitalizes on Massachusetts’ rich district- and student-level data to provide a profile of ELLs in Massachusetts and recommendations for improving their outcomes. The research was organized in two phases. In Phase I, AIR conducted an aggregate district-level analysis of ELL student demographic, geographic, and academic program profiles to document key trends across a sample of districts. In Phase II, AIR conducted an in-depth investigation of a kindergarten cohort of ELLs to examine students’ academic trajectories over time from initial identification as ELL until 10th grade when they may or may not have been reclassified as English proficient.
International Network for Public Schools
The purpose of this study funded through an i3 development grant from the US Department of Education is to evaluate the efforts to disseminate to schools in New York City and San Francisco the Internationals Network for Public Schools’ academically rigorous high school education model for recently arrived immigrant ELLs.
The U.S. Department of Education has invested substantial funds in turning around the nation’s lowest performing schools and has partnered with AIR to determine the impact of this investment. Over a three-year period, AIR has followed case-study schools to determine how low-performing schools implement federal School Improvement Grants (SIGs) and what changes result. Through site visits, interviews, and teacher surveys, AIR staff have explored teacher and leader capacity to meet the needs of ELLs, professional development related to ELLs, instructional approaches for ELLs, and involvement of ELL parents. Lessons learned about successful turnarounds will inform future federal policies related to low-performing schools.
Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides funds to states and districts to support ELL students’ successful attainment of English language proficiency and state academic standards. The U.S. Department of Education commissioned AIR to evaluate the Title III program to determine how well states are implementing its provisions, how state policy translates into district practices, and how well ELLs are mastering grade-level content and improving their English language proficiency.