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ELLs Are Focus in Teacher-Led Project on Common Core

June 26, 2012
A select group of 1st, 4th, and 8th grade teachers in Albuquerque, N.M., are in the middle of a major project to develop specific lessons and methods for teaching the new, more-rigorous common core standards in English/language arts to English-language learners. These teachers are doing the kind of concrete, nitty gritty work that I suspect scores of their colleagues across the country are hungry for as more states and districts move into the era of putting the common standards into practice in the classroom.

Understanding Language Council of the Great City School Presentation, May 18-19, 2012, Seattle

Drs. Kenji Hakuta and Maria Santos presented the latest work of the Understanding Language consortium on access to the Common Core State Standards for ELLs, including the draft ELL Instructional Principles.

NABE Resolution on Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

February 17, 2012

Whereas, there is no reliable, independently validated, empirical support for the Common Core Standards initiative, NABE opposes the concept of National Standards, and specifically opposes the Common Core Standards as adopted by the Council of Chief State School Officers. more…

Understanding Language Online Community Launch

April 11, 2012

“We are pleased to announce the launch of our website and online community, Understanding Language.

We aim to heighten educator awareness of the critical role that language plays in the new Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. The long-term goal of the initiative is to help educators understand that the new Standards cannot be achieved without providing specific attention to the language demands inherent to each content area. We seek to improve academic outcomes for English language learners by drawing attention to critical aspects of instructional practice and by advocating for necessary policy supports at the state and local levels.

The first product of this initiative consists of a set of commissioned papers that focus on the shifts, challenges, and opportunities found in the new Standards. These papers were presented at a major national conference held at Stanford University in January of 2012. They represent a strategic analysis of the language demands contained in the new Standards. The primary message of these papers is that language matters and cannot be overlooked as teachers, districts, and state and local agencies strive to prepare college- and career-ready students.

In phase two of this work, we will develop, test, and share exemplars of language-rich teaching practices in the content areas of math, science, and English language arts. We are collaborating with school districts across the nation. This work is facilitated by partnerships with the Council of Great City Schools and New York City Department of Education.

A third phase of work will engage educators nationally in the development of open-source teaching resources around the new Standards. These resources will demonstrate ways in which students’ disciplinary English language proficiency can be developed and supported in the context of content instruction.”

 

 

U.S. Department of Education: New Report Examines Criteria for Measuring the Progress of English Learners

The U.S. Department of Education released a draft report today (2/6/12) examining approaches to setting criteria for measuring the progress of English learners in classrooms as part of a four-year project led by American Institutes for Research (AIR). The final fully-formatted version of the report will be posted on the ED website in early March of 2012. The report, National Evaluation of Title III Implementation Supplemental Report: Exploring Approaches to Setting English Language Proficiency Performance Criteria and Monitoring English Learner Progress, provides examples of various ways states can use enhanced data systems to address key questions like:

  • What does English proficiency mean?
  • How long does it take to become English proficient?
  • How do we take into account the English Language proficiency level in setting academic progress for proficiency expectations?

The report describes several empirical methods and conceptual/theoretical rationales to help state policymakers, standard-setting panels, and the technical advisory panels and assistance providers supporting them. The report was a collaborative effort among Gary Cook of the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research, Robert Linquanti of WestEd, and AIR staff led by Marjorie Chinen.

The four-year project funded through the U.S. Department of Education, Policy and Program Studies Service, and led by a team of experts from AIR is evaluating Part A of the Title III Program, which provides federal grants to assist states and local governments in addressing the needs of limited English proficient children and immigrant youth. Three additional reports will be issued in the coming months.

For more information about the National Evaluation of Title III Implementation, please contact James Taylor (jtaylor@air.org) at AIR or Andrew Abrams (Andrew.abrams@ed.gov) at the U.S. Department of Education, Policy and Program Studies Service.

WIDA Survey on Academic Spanish

WIDA is conducting a research study called “Exploratory study of expressive language domains in academic Spanish” as part of the SALSA grant project.   The general purpose of this study is to examine the typical linguistic density and complexity of academic Spanish used by beginning, intermediate, and advanced Spanish language learners in the areas of language arts and mathematics.

This voluntary survey is available to all educators in the United States that meet the following criteria:

  • Are bilingual (Spanish/English)
  • Have Spanish literacy skills
  • Have K-12 teaching experience in the U.S.
  • Have experience working with Spanish language learners

Based on the survey results, the prompts will be modified as needed and administered to students participating in the study.  Data collected in this study will help inform performance criteria for academic Spanish language development.

Although the study targets Spanish language learners in Kindergarten, 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 12th grades in Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, and Wisconsin, the results will impact everyone who uses the Spanish language development standards being developed.

The survey will be available until February 17, 2012.  Any questions can be directed to Lorena Mancilla at lmancilla@wisc.edu.
Please feel free to forward this message to colleagues that meet the participation criteria listed above.  To access the surveys, please click here.

 

NCELA Quarterly Review: AccELLerate! 4.2. Winter 2012 – Volume 4: Issue 2 Young English Learners

This issue focuses on young English learners. These children come from linguistically and ethnically diverse backgrounds and are learning a second language while still acquiring their first language. Working with these children in an environment that is empowering and supportive of their home culture and language is essential for their academic success and growth into knowledgeable, skilled, and confident citizens of the 21st century. We offer a collection of papers presenting specific practices and new ideas for both novice and experienced teachers.

August et al. and Erdemir underscore the importance of vocabulary development; Robbins & Chamot and Gonzales describe innovative ways of developing young children’s learning strategies using the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA). Two papers address the issue of helping parents and caregivers to prepare their children for school (Connor & Brown; Grassi & Barker). McWilliams, Maldonado, & Szczepaniak share their experiences with developing family-school-community partnerships and Ballantyne discusses the need to foster DLLs’ social and emotional development in a new language. McCrary, Sennette, & Brown describe a journey to build a preparation program for pre-service teachers. Finally, Peña, Bedore, & Gibson and Rivas & Ware tackle the challenges of appropriate assessment of young ELs’ language skills and knowledge.

Tucson ethnic-studies program violates Arizona law, judge says

The Tucson school district’s Mexican American studies program violates state law, an Arizona administrative law judge ruled Tuesday, paving the way for the possible demise of the program.

The judge affirmed a prior decision by the state’s schools chief that the Tucson Unified School District’s program violates a law that aims to outlaw divisive ethnic studies classes.

NCTE Develops Resolution on the Student’s Right to Incorporate Heritage and Home Languages in Writing

This resolution builds on NCTE’s longstanding policies on students’ right to their own language, including previous resolutions: El día de los niños/El día de los libros (2005), Developing and Maintaining Fluency in More than One Language (1997), English as a Second Language and Bilingual Education (1982), Students’ Right to Their Own Language (1974) and, in particular, the 1986 and 2008 resolutions opposing English-only practices that displace or denigrate students’ home languages. This resolution also builds on similar resolutions affirmed over the past four decades by the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC).

UTPA Online M. Ed. Master’s Program Opportunity!

Apply to get your Masters Degree in Bilingual Education online from the University of Texas Pan American. Dr. Leo Gomez, the Coordinator, has been instrumental in establishing many of the dual language programs in our state.

Scholarships for Undocumented Students

College-bound students who are not citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States are not eligible for State of federal financial assistance because of their immigration status.  In addition, they are generally classified as international students and therefore are required to pay higher tuition and fees.  However, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) has compiled a list of scholarships that are open to undocumented students.  The list is available on MALDEF’s website at http://www.maldef.org/ <http://www.maldef.org/>  or by calling (213) 629-2512.

Understanding Language Initiative Launch!

April 11, 2012

We are pleased to announce the launch of our website and online community, Understanding Language.

We aim to heighten educator awareness of the critical role that language plays in the new Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. The long-term goal of the initiative is to help educators understand that the new Standards cannot be achieved without providing specific attention to the language demands inherent to each content area. We seek to improve academic outcomes for English language learners by drawing attention to critical aspects of instructional practice and by advocating for necessary policy supports at the state and local levels.

The first product of this initiative consists of a set of commissioned papers that focus on the shifts, challenges, and opportunities found in the new Standards. These papers were presented at a major national conference held at Stanford University in January of 2012. They represent a strategic analysis of the language demands contained in the new Standards. The primary message of these papers is that language matters and cannot be overlooked as teachers, districts, and state and local agencies strive to prepare college- and career-ready students.

In phase two of this work, we will develop, test, and share exemplars of language-rich teaching practices in the content areas of math, science, and English language arts. We are collaborating with school districts across the nation. This work is facilitated by partnerships with the Council of Great City Schools and New York City Department of Education.

A third phase of work will engage educators nationally in the development of open-source teaching resources around the new Standards. These resources will demonstrate ways in which students’ disciplinary English language proficiency can be developed and supported in the context of content instruction.