Connecting Research to Practice for English Language Learners
AIR provides valuable technical assistance and professional development to help states and districts improve instruction and learning for ELLs. We tailor our services to meet the specific needs of our clients in the following areas:
- Early Childhood Education (COLLTS)
- K-12 Curriculum and Instruction (ACCELL)
- State, District, and School Support Services
- Higher Education
Early Childhood Education
Cultivating Oral Language Literacy Talent in Students (COLLTS) is an early childhood program comprised of English and Spanish units that promote the development of pre-reading skills, oral language proficiency, and background and conceptual knowledge through interactive reading of high-quality children’s literature. COLLTS units are easily integrated into on-going early childhood education programs.
The COLLTS units were created by researchers using techniques that have been validated in prior research conducted with bilingual and low-income students in the United States.
K–12 Curriculum and Instruction
ACCELL is an approach that includes methods, resources, and tools, designed to help teachers support ELLs to meet academic standards in language arts and literacy in the core subject areas of English language arts, mathematics, history/social studies and science.
The ACCELL approach is consistent with findings from research reported in the most recent IES educators’ practice guide, Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English learners in Elementary and Middle School (Baker et al., 2014) and the National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth (August & Shanahan, 2006)
These research-based scaffolding routines and techniques include teaching academic vocabulary intensively across several days using a variety of techniques as well as integrating oral and written English language instruction into content-area teaching, and capitalizing on students’ home cultures, knowledge and skills.
Professional Learning Communities Facilitator's Guide: Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School
This guide is designed to assist teacher teams in applying the evidence-based strategies in the Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School educator's practice guide. The practice guide provides recommendations that address what works for English learners during reading and content area instruction.
State, District, and School Support Services
The Center for ELLs at AIR helps states, districts, and schools collect information about current policies and practices for ELLs, evaluate those policies and practices, and formulate plans of action to make improvements in the education of ELLs.
Center staff looks closely at language and academic performance data together with information collected from relevant district documents, classroom observations, staff interviews, and surveys. After collecting and analyzing this information AIR ELL experts provide an evaluation report with a detailed account of findings reflective of both what is working and what is not working to help ELLs succeed.
Staff also assist in explaining the results of the findings with wider groups of stakeholders in communities, and helps devise action plans, together with staff and stakeholders, for improved educational outcomes for ELLs.
Examples of Our Work in Support Services
Minnesota Department of Education
The Center for ELLs provides technical assistance on behalf of the Midwest Regional Comprehensive Center to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) in the area of serving Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE) and other English learners. The work involves three initiatives: (1) developing a recommended cultural competency action plan for the consideration of the MDE executive team; (2) revising and updating a statewide handbook for Linguistically and Culturally Diverse (LCD) families; and (3) revising and updating a handbook for school counselors and other school staff on serving LCD families in the state's public schools.
Holyoke School District, Massachusetts
The Center for ELLs recently signed a contract with the Holyoke School District in Massachusetts for three, half-day professional development trainings. Holyoke is requesting the ELL Center's assistance on the use of formative assessments to determine if an English Learner (EL) has a disability in speech, language, or learning. The ELL Center will provide several formative assessments to the district teams. The district teams will review the assessments for strengths and weaknesses in use with ELs. The ELL Center staff will facilitate a discussion to lead the group to consensus for the most appropriate assessment and will assist in outlining the implementation process. The formative assessments will be reviewed for cultural appropriateness in instructions and content as well as in the environment where they will be administered.
Tacoma Public School District 10, Washington
The Tacoma School District 10 has contracted the Center for ELLs at AIR to conduct an evaluation of the district's ELL program to make recommendations to improve services for ELLs. The review will include the following: (1) identification of potential ELLs; (2) staffing models and allocation of resources; (3) equitable access to resources; (4) design and implementation of delivery models; (5) professional development; and (6) effectiveness of communication with parents and community. The evaluation will also include a review of academic and English language proficiency performance of ELL students.
Aurora Public Schools, Colorado, ELL Evaluation Services
The district requested that AIR provide ELL evaluation consulting services to inform district policies and practices related to ELLs in the following areas: (1) program organization, (2) curriculum and instruction, and (3) support services. The district was interested particularly in how its English language development model of instruction compared with national and research-based best practices for educating ELLs. The report was used by the district to make improvements in policies and practices to improve the English language and academic achievement outcomes of ELLs.
Christina Public Schools, Delaware, ELL Evaluation Services
The Christina School District contract the Center for ELLs to conduct an evaluation of policies and practices as they relate to the performance of secondary ELLs. The evaluation report was used by the district to develop an Improvement Plan to improve educational outcomes for secondary ELL students.
Hartford, Connecticut, Public School District Review of Policies and Practices for ELLs
At the request of the superintendent and school board, AIR ELL specialists conducted a review of policies and practices for ELLs in the Hartford Public Schools. The review consisted of document reviews; classroom observations; and interviews of district-level leads, school administrators, English as a second language (ESL) specialists, and classroom teachers. AIR’s final report made recommendations for strengthening ELL policies and practices.
In higher education, increases in immigration as well as growth in international student enrollment means that institutions are faced with the challenge and opportunity of serving English learners (ELs) on their campuses. This white paper describes profiles of three English learners in higher education, each from a distinct group: international students, recent immigrants, and Generation 1.5 students. The profiles detail the motivations, experiences, and challenges that each EL faces in his or her academic pursuits. The paper offers considerations for serving ELs in colleges and universities at both the institutional level and classroom level, with an emphasis on how technology can be used to leverage research based practices.
The white paper served as the foundation for a convening of researchers, practitioners, and program administrators at the TESOL 2018 conference. In this follow-up webinar in July, we summarized key areas of discussion from the TESOL convening and followed up with next steps for serving ELs in higher education.