A Study of California’s Dual Language Learner Professional Development (DLL-PD) Grant Program

Teacher and young student playing with toy phone

Dual language leaners (DLLs) represent large and growing population in California’s early learning programs. Yet, without formal certifications or training requirements, many early learning providers across California are not sufficiently prepared to work with DLLs.

The Heising-Simons Foundation partnered with AIR to conduct the DLL Professional Development (PD) Bridge Study, which examined the effects of those state-funded programs on teacher practice, leveraging survey data from the F5CA Study’s large and broad sample of teachers serving DLLs. The study analyzed whether participation in three of the grant-funded PD programs was associated with teachers’ beliefs about and practices for working with DLLs and their families, using the same outcomes—and a largely overlapping sample of teachers—from the First 5 California funded DLL Pilot Study.

Key Findings

Across several different outcomes we examined, we found positive results for teachers who received the DLL-focused PD.

The grantees were (a) the California Preschool Instructional Network (CPIN), (b) California State University, Channel Islands–Early Childhood Studies Program, (c) Preschool Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD), (d) Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL): A PreK-3 Model, (e) the Language Learning Project (LLP), and (f) the Faculty Initiative Project. Ultimately, the program aimed to support educators and caregivers to better understand and serve young DLLs with high-quality early educational experiences.

  • Teachers who participated in GLAD, LLP, or SEAL (either as part of the DLL-PD grant program or earlier) not only received more DLL-related PD than other teachers but also reported needing less additional PD.
  • Teachers who participated in GLAD, LLP, or SEAL prior to the DLL-PD grant program were less likely to express English-centric views and had higher levels of confidence in teaching DLLs.
  • Teachers who participated in GLAD, LLP, or SEAL more frequently used evidence-based instructional practices, especially teachers who received the PD prior to the DLL-PD grant program.
  • Teachers who participated in GLAD, LLP, or SEAL demonstrated more family engagement practices than those who did not receive this PD.
  • The extensiveness of DLL-related PD teachers receive may be the main driver of their use of evidence-based practices with DLLs and their families.