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English Language Learners and Diverse Students Print E-mail

The Center's Resources:

Serving Recent Immigrant Students Through School–Community Partnerships (Also available in PDF format.)
The February 2008 newsletter examines how district and school partnerships with community-based organizations can help schools better meet the needs of recent immigrant students.

Subgroup Performance and School Reform: The Importance of a Comprehensive Approach (Also available in PDF format.)
The January 2006 newsletter highlights recent research that suggests a different approach. It looks at three studies in which schools that succeed—and all of them serve high percentages of at-risk students—take a more comprehensive approach to improvement.

High-Achieving Middle Schools for Latino Students in Poverty
This October 2005 research brief reviews a study that seeks to answer the question, What are the characteristics of middle schools in which Latino students from low-income families make substantial achievement gains?

School Culture: “The Hidden Curriculum”
In this December 2006 issue brief, Craig Jerald discusses the impact of organizational culture on student achievement.

Gifted and Talented Students at Risk for Underachievement
Educators and policymakers can address gifted underachievement through changes in classroom and systemwide practices. This August 2008 issue brief summarizes the issues underlying promising practices for supporting the gifted and talented. It also offers a series of questions to ask when planning schoolwide improvement efforts that address the needs of gifted and talented students—especially those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and low socioeconomic status families—who are at risk for underachievement.

School Reform and Improvement Database
The Center’s School Reform and Improvement Database provides almost 5,000 citations and abstracts of screened, high-quality research reports, articles, and studies on school reform and improvement from scholars throughout the United States. Click on the following links for specific topics.

Resources and Tools:

Alaska Cultural Standards and Guidelines
This collection of pamphlets for culturally responsive schools was originally developed through a series of regional and statewide meetings associated with the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation and the Annenberg Rural Challenge, and administrative support was provided by the Alaska Federation of Natives in collaboration with the University of Alaska. These guidelines and standards were developed for consideration by educators serving Alaska Native students, although many of the standards are applicable to all students and communities.

Best Evidence Encyclopedia: English Language Learners
Operated by the Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, The Best Evidence Encyclopedia provides summaries of research-based evidence for mathematics, reading, and comprehensive school reform. This link offers evidence of achievement effects of various reading programs for English language learners.

Center on Instruction: English Language Learner Strand
The Center on Instruction, part of the Comprehensive Center network, offers a collection of resources and scientifically based research on instruction for Grades K–12 to increase educators’ mathematical knowledge. The English language learner strand contains research and resources, including delivery models and professional development for teachers in content and language areas.

ColorĂ­n Colorado
This bilingual website offers practical, research-based information on how to help English language learners read. The site first went online in 2003 and was relaunched with information for educators in July 2005 by Reading Rockets, a national project of public broadcasting station WETA in Washington, D.C., and the American Federation of Teachers, a teachers union. The site includes best instructional practices for teaching reading, a toolkit on effective outreach to Hispanic families, and bilingual information for families on how to help their child succeed in school.

The Knowledge Loom: Culturally Responsive Teaching
This resource was developed by The Education Alliance at Brown University to provide educators with research-based knowledge and materials on selected topics. Click on the link provided to read about culturally responsive instructional practices and link to additional research, stories from the field, and tools.

U.S. Department of Education Doing What Works—Teaching Literacy in English to K–5 English Learners
This interactive toolkit provides users with research and information about teaching literacy in English to English learners in Grades K–5. The site includes recommended practices for screening and monitoring progress, reading interventions, teaching vocabulary, developing academic English, and peer learning. Resources include video demonstrations, reports, and a glossary of terms.

What Works Clearinghouse: English Language Learners
Funded through the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences, the What Works Clearinghouse employs a stringent review process to identify scientifically based research on educational topics. This link provides reviews of interventions for English language learners in the areas of reading and English language development.

Articles and Reports:

Serving Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Students

The Changing Face of the Classroom: Serving ELL Students, 2006
From the spring 2006 edition of Northwest Education, this report addresses reading and mathematics achievement gaps between English language learners (ELLs) and other students and cites differences in test scores that "range from 21 to 57 percent in the Northwest." This Northwest Education edition includes articles on how schools and districts are using different approaches to ELL instruction based on their students' needs and articles on other key concerns such as parental involvement.

Claiming Opportunities: A Handbook for Improving Education for English Language Learners Through Comprehensive School Reform, 2003
This handbook seeks to address the lack of awareness in the possibility of meeting the needs of English language learners (ELLs) through comprehensive school reform (CSR) by presenting the existing research on both CSR and ELL educational reform and suggesting how the two educational improvement efforts can be integrated. This handbook is intended to help concerned administrators, policymakers, teachers, and other stakeholders understand the types of changes that can help their states, districts, and schools do a better job educating ELLs, as well as help ELL educators extend their influence from the classroom and categorical program to the whole school and beyond. Show Full Abstract

Diversity: School, Family & Community Connections. Annual Synthesis, 2003
This research synthesis, from the National Center for Family & Community Connections with Schools at the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, is the third in a series of reports to help local school, community, and family leaders obtain useful information about key education issues. This synthesis addresses diversity as it relates to student achievement and school, family, and community connections. (Source: ERIC)

Educating English Language Learners: Implementing Instruction Practices, 2005
This publication is part of a three-guide series developed by the National Council of La Raza to assist schools in developing their capacity to provide appropriate curricula, instruction, and assessment for English language learners (ELLs) and to increase educators’ awareness of how to access relevant resources. This guide is designed for teachers, academic coaches, staff developers, and school leaders and provides instructional strategies, techniques, and guidelines helpful for engaging ELLs and other diverse learners.

Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades: A Practice Guide, 2007
This NCEERA Practice Guide is the first in a series of IES [Institute of Education Sciences] guides in education that are developed by a panel of experts. The guides are intended to bring the best available evidence and expertise to bear on the types of systemic challenges that cannot currently be addressed by a single intervention or program. This first guide addresses the challenge of providing effective literacy instruction for English language learners in the elementary grades. Although the target audience is a broad spectrum of school practitioners, such as administrators, curriculum specialists, coaches, staff development specialists, and teachers, Show Full Abstract

Effects of the Implementation of Proposition 227 on the Education of English Learners, K–12: Findings From a Five-Year Evaluation. Final Report for AB 56 and AB 1116, 2006
This report summarizes a five-year evaluation of a study of 1.5 million English language learners (ELLs) and 3.5 million English-fluent and native-English speaking students in California. Key findings from the study include the following: The performance gap between ELLs and native speakers has remained constant in most subject areas for most grades; there is no evidence to support an argument for the superiority of one ELL instructional approach over another; and the likelihood of an ELL meeting the linguistic and academic criteria needed to reclassify that person as having English-proficient status after 10 years in California schools is less than 40 percent. Show Full Abstract

English Language Proficiency Assessment in the Nation: Current Status and Future Practice, 2007
This report from the University of California, Davis, finds that English Language Proficiency (ELP) assessments have improved significantly under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) Title III legislation requirements. This 191-page report presents an overview of ELP assessments before and after the implementation of the NCLB law and focuses on introducing four new ELP assessments developed following NCLB law guidelines. The report also gives recommendations for making optimal use of the legislation to develop more reliable ELP assessments and for closing the achievement gap in English language proficiency.

Expanding and Improving Early Education for Hispanics, 2007
A report from the National Task Force on Early Childhood Education for Hispanics urges that Hispanic children be enrolled in high-quality education programs as early as possible in order to make more rapid progress in closing the Hispanic-white achievement gap. The report includes extensive data on Hispanic educational attainment and achievement as well as recommendations that seek to expand or improve early childhood education for Hispanics over the next two decades. Recommendations are aimed at state and federal governments, private foundations, Hispanic organizations, and education researchers.

La Frontera: Student Achievement in Texas Border and Nonborder Districts, 2007
This REL Southwest (a regional educational laboratory) study provides substantial data on the education environment of La Frontera, an area along the U.S.–Mexico border in Texas. The report contrasts the characteristics of border and nonborder districts in Texas and examines how Texas border and nonborder districts differ in location and size, student demographics, teacher data, and community economics. Significant differences between border and nonborder districts, such as variance in student performance on assessment tests, were examined to identify the relationship between the differences and student achievement.

Preparing to Serve English Language Learner Students: School Districts With Emerging English Language Learner Communities, 2008
As part of the Issues & Answers series from REL Appalachia (a regional educational laboratory), this report investigates how school districts in four states (Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) are responding to the increase in English language learner (ELL) student enrollment. The authors sought to determine the extent of, the response to, and the lessons school districts are learning from their attempts to serve these emerging ELL communities. The methodology included an analysis of district-level enrollment data, a literature review, and interviews with district and school administrators. Show Full Abstract

Promise or Peril? NCLB and the Education of ELL Students, 2007
This report describes the implementation of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act in school districts and schools with large enrollments of English language learners (ELLs) and immigrant students. The case study draws from previous research on the demographic characteristics of students in Grades PK–5 and schools with high ELL enrollment. It documents how the NCLB Act was implemented in three districts with a high enrollment of ELLs (two in each district) and describes the law’s effect on the education of ELL students attending these schools.

Recommendations for Assessing English Language Learners: English Language Proficiency Measures and Accommodation Uses, 2008
Drawing from a review of current literature and state policy for English language learner (ELL) assessment, the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing at the University of California, Los Angeles, has released this report. The final component of a series of reports on ELL assessments offers guidelines to improve state ELL assessment systems. The report highlights a series of recommendations, including using appropriate accommodations to enable ELL students to show what they know and can do on content tests in English. A discussion of further research needed to fill gaps between research and practice concludes the report.

Registering Students From Language Backgrounds Other Than English, 2007
This report, from the REL Appalachia (a regional educational laboratory) Issues & Answers series, aims to provide school and district educators with information and guidance related to the issue of identifying and serving linguistically diverse students new to the school system.

The Role of Schools in the English Language Learner Achievement Gap, 2008
This report from the Pew Hispanic group details the disparity in test scores among students in the public schools of five states (Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Texas) with the highest percentage of English language learner (ELL) students. The report utilizes three U.S. Department of Education databases, including the National Longitudinal School-Level State Assessment Score Database (NLSLSASD), which is a school-level data set. The NLSLSASD database allows the researchers to focus on characteristics of the schools and how they potentially affect the ELL achievement gap, including the level of ELL concentration, higher student-to-teacher ratios, Show Full Abstract

Similar English Learner Students, Different Results: Report of Findings, 2007
This report by EdSource analyzes data from teacher and principal surveys, California’s English Learner Academic Performer Index, and the California Standards Tests to identify school practices correlated with higher achievement among English learners (EL) in California. Extensive use of assessment data, a closely aligned curriculum, establishing measurable and ambitious goals for student achievement, and ensuring access to instructional resources were among the findings.

Who's Left Behind: Immigrant Children in High and Low LEP Schools, 2005
This report examines the characteristics of schools with a high population of English language learners (ELLs) as compared to schools with low ELL populations. The data were collected from the 1999–2000 Schools and Staffing Survey. Findings indicate that over two thirds of the nation's ELL students are largely concentrated in 10 percent of its schools (high ELL schools); these high ELL schools are predominantly located in urban areas; and the students in these schools are largely minority and economically disadvantaged. Teachers in these schools are more likely to be provisionally qualified. In contrast, almost one third of the nation’s ELLs are enrolled in low ELL schools, which lag behind high ELL schools in ELL services Show Full Abstract

Why Some Schools With Latino Children Beat the Odds…and Others Don’t, 2006
The Morrison Institute for Public Policy and the Center for the Future of Arizona researchers examined high-achieving schools in Arizona with mostly Latino, mostly poor student enrollment. Results indicate six elements of success are keys to obtaining high achievement, including ongoing assessment, strong principals, and persistence.

Culturally Responsive Educational Practices

Becoming Culturally Responsive Educators: Rethinking Teacher Education Pedagogy, 2006
This practitioner brief from the National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCREST) investigates the need to develop guidelines for culturally responsive teacher education pedagogy. The brief outlines characteristics of culturally responsive teaching, curriculum implications, and guidelines for a culturally responsive pedagogy in teacher education programs. Classroom-based pedagogical practices for preservice courses and field experiences are included.

Creating Culturally Responsive Gifted Education Classrooms: Culture Is the First Step, 2004
This article, from the Fall 2004 issue of Gifted Child Today, offers a definition of culturally responsive educational practices. It summarizes research on understanding the cultures of diverse students to provide readers with a framework for better relating to and serving gifted and diverse learners.

Culturally Responsive Classroom Management: Awareness into Action, 2003
This article expands discussions of culturally responsive pedagogy by focusing specifically on the tasks and challenges of classroom organization and management. First, we examine three prerequisite understandings that underlie teachers' ability to manage diverse classrooms in culturally competent ways. We then consider specific approaches and strategies for enacting culturally responsive classroom management (CRCM) and reflect on the ways that management practices promote or obstruct equal access to learning. We stress the fact that developing CRCM is an ongoing, long-term, and often discomfiting process, in which cultural diversity becomes a lens through which teachers view the tasks of classroom management. (Source: ERIC)

Culturally Responsive Literacy Instruction, 2006
This practitioner brief from the National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCREST) discusses the importance of literacy instruction in assisting culturally and linguistically diverse students. The brief describes the importance of multiple forms of literacy, early reading success, and multicultural literature in a culturally responsive educational system. A collection of multicultural authors in children’s literature is provided.

The Diversity Kit: An Introductory Resource for Social Change in Education, 2002
This online book compiles current research on human development and cultural diversity. The publication uses research summaries, vignettes, and descriptions of activities to provide insight into how schools can meet the unique cultural needs of their diverse learners. Each of the three chapters includes activities and suggestions for further exploration, including websites, video, and print sources.

Leading With Diversity: Cultural Competencies for Teacher Preparation and Professional Development, 2005
This publication, developed at Brown University in cooperation with Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, draws together research and practical knowledge about cultural competencies that teachers need in order to work with students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. This resource is designed for higher education, state- and district-level educators, and professional developers who are preparing teachers to work with students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. It outlines cultural competencies for teachers in the areas of culture, language, and race and ethnicity, along with supporting research and resources.

Community Connections and Family Engagement

Classroom to Community and Back: Using Culturally Responsive Standards-Based Teaching to Strengthen Family and Community Partnerships and Increase Student Achievement, 2005
This practitioner’s guide from REL Northwest (a regional educational laboratory) looks at strategies to improve student achievement through culturally responsive teaching and family–community partnerships. The guide introduces culturally responsive, standards-based (CRSB) teaching. The guide provides ideas, activities and planning tools for classroom implementation. The CRSB teaching approach encourages the inclusion of ways of knowing familiar to the culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Examining American Indian Perspectives in the Central Region on Parent Involvement in Children's Education
As a part of the Issues & Answers series, REL Central (a regional educational laboratory) examines the perceptions of American Indian parents on parent involvement in this report. In order to understand factors effecting American Indian parental involvement, four key topics were surveyed using focus groups that represented seven tribes from nine reservations in the Central Region states. The authors conclude that while many of the challenges identified are common to parents in the general population, the primary factor influencing American Indian parental involvement is the historical and cultural perspective they bring to their children’s education. Show Full Abstract

My Child’s Academic Success: A Guide to the Tool Kit for Hispanic Families, 2005
According to former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, this toolkit was created for families “to help them be more involved in their children's education and have the best education information at their fingertips.” No Child Left Behind Act benefits and services are described in the kit as well as tips on how families and communities can help children be successful students. English and Spanish translations of the Hispanic family toolkits can be downloaded from the U.S. Department of Education website.

Preparing to Serve English Language Learner Students: School Districts With Emerging English Language Learner Communities, 2008
This report from REL Appalachia (a regional educational laboratory) was prepared for the Issues & Answers series and seeks to collect information about how districts with emerging immigrant communities are learning about and beginning to organize to serve students. This report investigates how school districts in four states (Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) are responding to the increase in English language learner (ELL) student enrollment. The authors sought to determine the extent of, the response to, and the lessons school districts are learning from their attempts to serve these emerging ELL communities. The methodology included an analysis of district-level enrollment data, Show Full Abstract

Promoting ELL Parental Involvement: Challenges in Contested Times, 2008
A recent policy brief released from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice analyzes characteristics of English language learner (ELL) student and parent populations, addressing the barriers to, and characteristics of, ELL parental involvement programs. Barriers to ELL parental involvement include limited linguistic proficiency and educational background on the part of the ELL parent, as well as both a deficit perspective and unidirectional approaches on the part of the schools. The researchers suggest embedding cultural knowledge into the framework of parent involvement models and implementing reciprocal parent involvement approaches.

Working with Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Families, 2001
During the 1990s, there was heightened awareness among early childhood researchers of the need to examine efforts to provide programs and services responsive to the needs and preferences of families of young children from diverse cultural and linguistic groups. This ERIC Digest presents strategies supported by the research literature to enhance interactions with families from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. After discussing issues involved in the development of relationships between professionals and the families they serve, the Digest suggests the following strategies for working with families: (1) respect the uniqueness of each family system; Show Full Abstract

Related Organizations:

Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence in Education (CREDE)

Center for Research on the Educational Achievement and Teaching of English Language Learners (CREATE)

Civil Rights Project at University of California, Los Angeles

CREDE Resources on Native American Students

The Education Alliance at Brown University
The Education Alliance identifies culturally and linguistically diverse learners as an area of expertise. This link provides a complete listing of publications available for download.

The Equity Project at Indiana University

National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE)

National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME)

The National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCREST)

The National Center on Education, Disability and Juvenile Justice

National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition and Language Instruction Educational Programs (NCELA)

Teaching Tolerance

U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights—Programs for English Language Learners

U.S. Department of Education Office of English Language Acquisition