Study 1: Course Access
Existing research strongly suggests that the currently typical course-taking patterns of English Learners in high school negatively impact their academic achievement and graduation outcomes.
Study 1 seeks to describe course-taking patterns of secondary-level students who are classified as English Learners, looking at data in four states: Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. For example, to what extent do English Learners have access to core content courses from grades 9–12?
More importantly, the study also explores how malleable levers in these states—such as course offerings within schools, extra instructional time, reclassification policies, counselor caseload, peer composition, and teacher qualifications and characteristics—are associated with the expanded course access that students should receive in order to succeed.
The study examines how course access and course-taking patterns are related to students’ academic outcomes, including test scores, graduation, and English Language Proficiency scores.
“How State, District and School Levers Can Improve the Course Access of Students Classified as English Learners in Secondary Schools,” Manuel Vazquez Cano, Education Northwest, Ilana M. Umansky, University of Oregon, and Karen D. Thompson, Oregon State
OELA webinar: English learners in secondary schools: Trajectories, transition points and promising practices
Study 2: Co-Teaching and Related Models
Across America, co-teaching and related forms of collaboration between content area teachers and English Language Development teachers have become increasingly common models that seek to integrate content-area and language instruction. While some such models have become better defined and implemented, the full extent of these practices nationally—their prevalence, variations, and effectiveness—is not known.
Study 2 is documenting how co-teaching and collaboration vary in their implementation in several educational contexts, how to organize co-teaching and collaboration models, and what professional development is necessary. The study is also examining policy guidance and challenges and successes that districts and schools face when implementing these models.
Study 3: English Language Arts Curriculum
In order to (1) develop teacher expertise with quality curriculum and learning for students bureaucratically classified as long-term English Learners, and (2) to strengthen classroom learning opportunities for middle school English Learners, Study 3 involves the iterative development, implementation, and impact estimation of replacement educational materials for 8th grade English language arts. The curriculum, which intends to foster learner autonomy, consists of three units with lessons that have formative assessment built in.
The team seeks to estimate the impact of this curriculum on English learners’ educational outcomes.
Study 4: Math Curriculum
Similarly, researchers are iteratively developing, testing, and refining a three-week math summer bridge program—“Reimaging and Amplifying Mathematical Participation, Understanding, and Practices,” or RAMP-UP—for rising 9th grade English Learners.
The curriculum is centered around mathematics concepts that cut across algebra, geometry, and statistics—the major domains of high school math—and simultaneously incorporates the learning of academic English that is needed to engage in mathematical practices. The study will estimate the curriculum’s impact on English Learner math achievement via a diagnostic math test administered before and after the summer program.
Related efforts from our research partners
Center researchers at Oregon State University also lead the Teachers Educating All Multilingual Students (TEAMS) project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of English Language Acquisition. TEAMS supports both preservice and in-service teachers in Oregon to earn state licensure for working with multilingual students. Participating teachers also partner with community organizations to deepen their knowledge about family literacy and family engagement.
Our sister IES-funded center, the Center for the Success of English Learners (CSEL), housed at the University of Texas, Houston, is working to identify and remove barriers related to school tracking. CSEL is analyzing administrative and newly collected data using a mixed methods approach, and is developing and testing materials in science and social studies, while our Center is developing and testing materials in English language arts and math.