English Language Learners
In 2013, 4.4 million U.S. public school students were classified as English language learners (NCES). These students come to school with the benefit of speaking a language other than English. All the while, they face the challenge of acquiring content knowledge in English at the same time as they acquire English as an additional language. They are held to the same graduation requirements and accountability standards as their English-proficient peers. English language learners can be supported by conducting rigorous research and evaluation to improve instruction and learning, evaluating policy to inform decision-making, and enhancing ELL practice at the district, school, and classroom level.
The core of AIR's work supporting ELLs is done through the Center for English Language Learners.
Mastering math and the academic language of math is essential for all students, but especially for 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 follow an iterative development process to refine the intervention, leading to a pilot study in the third and final study year. A practitioner manual, which displays and describes the instructional materials and methods used in MELD, is now available.
Spring Branch Independent School District
In this project led by Linda Cavazos, the Center for ELLs staff based in Austin, Texas are working with the Spring Branch Independent School District in Texas to provide districtwide ELL-focused professional development and ongoing technical assistance for a period of five years. The AIR team will provide an annual ELL Summer Institute followed by a series of professional development with a recursive cycle of observations, coaching, and Professional Learning Communities, with a focus on the improved outcomes of ELLs.