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English Language Learners

Correcting Pernicious Myths About Dual Language Learners

September 8, 2013

Almost every discussion of dual-language learning students in the United States begins with statistics illustrating their growing numbers. This is understandable, since the number of districts that inadequately meet dual language learners’ needs dwarfs the number that adopt intentionally-crafted, research-based approaches. Language learning experts emphasize the size of the DLL population in order to demand attention.

IES Report: Early Interventions and Early Childhood Education

August 7, 2013
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On July 23rd the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) released a report on research pertaining to early childhood education. The report describes findings supported by IES early intervention and childhood education research grants, as well as how to use these to better support improvements in early childhood education in the United States. In particular, it spotlights instructional practices and curriculum that appear to enhance young children’s development and learning and approaches for improving teachers’ and other practitioners’ instruction.

KIDS COUNT Reports Bright Spots, Though Inequities Remain

July 10, 2013

Last month, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released its annual KIDS COUNT Data Book for 2013. While the report contains a few bright spots for children, authors find that few children from poor families are attending early childhood programs of the highest quality.

New Research Shows Social Skills and Mixed-Language Play Help ELLs Learn English

June 24, 2013

A new study provides evidence of the direct link between social and academic skill building during early childhood. The article, “Understanding Influences of Play on Second Language Learning,” is by Ruth Piker of California State University – Long Beach, and was published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Early Childhood Research. Piker uses developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky’s “concept of play as rule driven” to analyze how non-native English speakers develop skills in English through structured play with both native speakers and other dual-language learners.

Update: A New NCLB Reauthorization Cheat Sheet

June 19, 2013

After the partisan markup in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, it is the House of Representatives' turn to debate reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. The Student Success Act, offered by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), is set for a markup Wednesday morning in the House Education and Workforce Committee. Accordingly, we’ve updated our Senate markup cheat sheet to provide a comprehensive, side-by-side comparison of current law, the Obama administration’s waiver policy, and the current legislative proposals in the Senate and House. You can download the new cheat sheet here.

Here are a few of the highlights from the Kline proposal:

  • The Student Success Act would eliminate over 70 programs and consolidate many stand-alone programs (for instance, Title III for English Language Learners) into Title I, with flexibility for states and districts to shift money between them. The bill would also eliminate maintenance of effort requirements, meaning states and local school districts would not be penalized for spending less on required education programs.
  • Kline would not require states to adopt college- and career-ready standards, but they would have to maintain academic content standards – and aligned assessments – in reading, math, and science. And the bill includes really specific language, over and above the Alexander proposal, to prohibit the federal government from promoting participation in the Common Core State Standards initiative in any way.
  • The bill, similar to the Alexander proposal, would allow states to design whatever school accountability and improvement systems they want, including setting performance targets (if any). Kline would also clamp down on the Secretary of Education’s authority to offer waivers to states and districts in exchange for external conditions.
  • Kline, however, would be more prescriptive than either Harkin or Alexander in one area: teacher evaluations, with states required not only to develop them, but also to use the results to make personnel decisions.
  • Kline would not allow Title I funding to follow the child to other public or private schools, but there is speculation that a backpack funding provision could be added to the Student Success Act at a later point. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), for example, has expressed an interest in some sort of portability provision.

Stay tuned to Ed Money Watch and Early Ed Watch for continuing coverage of these bills and the markup, as well as any alternative proposal from Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the Ranking Member on the House committee. And be sure to follow the markup on Twitter with me, @afhyslop, and my colleagues @LauraBornfreund and @ConorPWilliams

English Language Learners in Rep. Kline's Student Success Act

June 18, 2013

The parade of bills that could replace No Child Left Behind continues this week with Wednesday’s markup of Rep. John Kline’s (R-MN) version. All signals suggest that this won’t be the year Congress finally updates the nation’s most comprehensive education law—and the substantial differences between Kline’s and Sen. Tom Harkin’s bills have a lot to do with these dim prospects. We’ve already seen what Harkin’s Strengthening America’s Schools Act would mean for English Language Learners (ELLs). Today we’ll take a similar look at Kline’s bill, the Student Success Act (SSA).

English Language Learners in Sen. Alexander's Every Child Ready for College or Career Act

June 11, 2013

Last week was a big week for American education policy watchers—we received not one, not two, but three new ESEA reauthorization bills. We’ve already discussed Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) Strengthening America’s Schools Act (SASA), so it’s time to take a look at the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act, proposed by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).* Like last time, we’ll be focusing on how the bill would affect English language learners (ELLs). (For a comprehensive view of the differences between the bills, check out this post from my colleague Anne Hyslop.)

Sen. Harkin’s Strengthening America’s Schools Act, Title III

June 10, 2013

Now that my colleagues Anne Hyslop and Clare McCann have dug into the changes that Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) Strengthening America’s Schools Act (SASA) proposes for Title I and Title II (here and here), it’s my turn to take a look at the bill’s potential effects on English language learners (ELLs).

Growing Research Consensus on Effective Strategies for Dual Language Instruction in Early Childhood

May 22, 2013

While there is little doubt that excellent early education sets students up for long-term academic success, the definition of “excellent” varies along with communities’ diverse needs. This is nowhere truer than with dual language learners.

Study Highlights Significant Benefits of Boston Public Schools Pre-K Program

April 23, 2013

Earlier this month, President Obama proposed a new program that would provide funding for states to offer pre-K to all 4-year-olds from low-income families. Some early education advocates celebrated the announcement as a huge step forward, but others  were more concerned with the details: If the program is implemented, how would the administration ensure new pre-K programs are high quality?

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