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Keynotes Available from Inaugural English Learner Research Conference

On May 8-9, nearly 300 guests attended the Inaugural Improving Instruction, Assessment, and Policies for Secondary English Learners Across the Content Areas conference in Washington, D.C.

Held at George Washington University, the conference was the first in a series hosted by two IES-funded centers – the Center for the Success of English Learners and the National R&D Center to Improve Education for Secondary English Learners – both created to provide the field with rigorous, reliable evidence about how to improve opportunities and achievement for English Learners in secondary school settings.

Keynote addresses – accessible below -- addressed the following topics:

  • Looking back and moving forward: The complex path for English Learners across support systems and their policies. Kenji Hakuta, Stanford University

  • Challenges and possibilities in the assessment of English Learners: Evolving policies, new technologies, and old problems. Guillermo Solano-Flores, Stanford University

  • Why ecologies matter: Critical and dialogic perspectives on instruction, assessment, and policies impacting multilingual youth. Amanda Kibler, Oregon State University

The conference was part of broader research dissemination efforts by both centers nationally, including making actionable tools and resources available for practitioners and policymakers.

Notably, the conference intentionally included a cross section of research, policy, and practice roles from the local to federal levels as speakers and participants. This wide swath of roles touching English Learner opportunities meant that a network of cross-role expertise could collectively examine systemic problems and together develop realistic, feasible solutions rooted in realities that run throughout and around systems. This approach, not typical at conferences, was necessary to both surface barriers each other face as well as identify gaps in between roles that must be filled.

“This collective approach to problem-solving will help our center researchers innovate and iterate upon their research to further align with practical realities on the ground,” said Erica Lepping, spokesperson for the National R&D Center to Improve Education for Secondary English Learners at WestEd. “It is our hope that practitioners also developed concrete ideas around how to activate the latest English Learner research in districts, schools and classrooms, and that policymakers discovered paths toward removing barriers or creating conditions necessary for success. All roles in the ecosystem must be coordinated to enable solutions.”

Both IES-funded research entities center English Learners at the core of their research, while probing broadly for systemic levers that affect English Learner success. Generally, the two buckets of research currently underway and expected to be released between 2024 and 2026 aim to:

  1. Develop teacher expertise and student agency and confidence and

  2. Open up gateways along English Learner educational trajectories, such as students taking courses found critical to progress long-term.

This summer, the centers will announce the next conference in this series, expected to be held in 2024.



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