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ELL Researchers Hope to Launch Effort on 'Common Core'

A group of well-known researchers on English-language learners are seeking funding to develop methods that educators could use to help English-language learners at specific English-proficiency levels and grade levels meet the common-core standards, which have now been adopted by most states.

I spoke with Diane August, a senior research scientist at the Center for Applied Linguistics, about the researchers' plan this morning, after I saw on a slide show posted over at ColorĂ­n Colorado, that a group called the California Collaborative is aiming to help educators implement the common-core standards with ELLs.

ColorĂ­n Colorado has put together a resource page about the common-core standards and ELLs. It includes a slide show from an October meeting hosted by the American Federation of Teachers that provides what I would call a "starter kit" for educators to understand how they need to think through the application of the common-core standards to ELLs.

August said that if the group of ELL researchers succeeds in getting funding from private foundations to launch its effort, they will work with the California Collaborative to develop protocols to determine the skills and knowledge that ELLs have in relation to the common-core standards. Those protocols will be established for students at three different levels of proficiency and at three different grade levels, she said. The project would be carried out in cooperation with the California Collaborative, a group of superintendents of California school districts, including Los Angeles Unified School District, who have been meeting regularly for three years to address the education of ELLs.

August explained that it's natural for the researchers to choose to work with the California Collaborative because some of the superintendents in that group helped to convince the former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to endorse the common standards. Though focused on California students for collecting data, the goal of the researchers' project would be to create methods that could be used nationwide, August said.

August and Jennifer O'Day, a principal research scientist at the American Institutes for Research, are leading the effort, but five other well-known ELL researchers are participating. They are Kenji Hakuta, Guadalupe Valdez, Kris Gutierrez, Donna Christian, and Robert Linquanti.

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