What works for English learners
When it comes to teaching kids who are still learning English, some elementary schools are missing the boat while others are making great strides. What's the difference? A new report looking at 237 California schools points to four key areas that seem to hold the key. And for the first time, the study doesn't just pit bilingual education against English-only or some other approach. Instead, it looks at effective classroom practices, something that Margarita Calderon, a key Johns Hopkins University researcher not associated with the report, called groundbreaking and compelling. What are the successful schools doing that the failing ones are not? Here's the list:
- Using student assessment data extensively to determine whether instruction is working for each students.
- Ensuring access to good teachers and instructional resources.
- Aligning the curriculum with state academic standards, within each grade level and between the grades.
- Setting measurable, ambitious goals for student achievement.
"It's all about what is happening in the classroom," Stanford University researcher Michael Kirst, who worked with EdSource on the report, told the Education Writers Association annual meeting in Los Angeles, where the report was released today.
Florida, which has its fair share of English learners, could learn a lot from this report and its findings. For instance, the study reveals that pull-out English language courses are more effective than having every classroom teacher get a "weak" English Language Learner credential - like Florida requires.