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National Board to Gauge Support for English Learners, Education Research Law

The federal Education Department's research arm is gearing up to try to build a research-based case for building better supports for English-language learners.

At its next meeting, to be held in Washington Jan. 31, the National Board for Education Sciences is expected to hear from Sean Reardon, an education professor at Stanford University specializing in racial and income gaps in education, as well as Gabriela Uro, the ELL policy manager at the Council of the Great City Schools, and Eileen de los Reyes, deputy superintendent of academics for Boston public schools.

Reardon has found racial segregation creeping back into the nation's schools and neighborhoods as prior court-ordered desegregation plans are phased out, and linguistic isolation for immigrant English-language learners is becoming a particular concern. In a separate study, de los Reyes collaborated with University of Massachusetts Boston researchers and others to track English learners in Boston schools from 2006 through 2009. They found "deep vulnerability" for ELL students entering middle and high school with low language proficiency, particularly because more than 80 percent of them attend high-poverty schools, and more than three out of four attend schools that don't meet state accountability benchmarks in reading or mathematics.

The board is expected to discuss changing dynamics of support for English learners, and what research areas would be most helpful for practitioners.

Education Research Reauthorization

Efforts to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act ground to a halt last fall, but the board also plans at the meeting to discuss how to get the conversation started again on the Hill. It's likely to make 2014 a heavy lift for board members and IES Director John Q. Easton, who will be building out local research partnerships this year. 

Want more research news? Follow @SarahDSparks on Twitter for the latest studies, and join the conversation.

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