The National Science Foundation is boosting a new direction in research by funding 32 projects for the study of English-language learners and science or ELLs and math. The majority of the awards are for the design, development, and testing of an idea, according to Julio E. Lopez-Ferrao, the director of the NSF's division of research on learning in formal and informal settings.
"The fields of ELL science and ELL math education are just emerging as researchers from different backgrounds cross domains," Lopez-Ferrao said in a presentation about the NSF awards at a July 11 forum on ELLs and science, technology, engineering, and math—or STEM—hosted by the U.S. Department of Education. He said the NSF is particularly interested in how ELLs can best be tested in science and math, how they can have access to those subjects in school, and how innovations regarding STEM and ELLs can be expanded and sustained in a cost-effective way.
Because only two of the 32 awards are for scaling up projects or studying their effectiveness, he said the projects do not yet comprise "a mature advanced portfolio." The awards include nine projects on professional development and six on curriculum development.
The office of English-language acquisition sponsored the meeting. Improving access for ELLs to STEM careers is a high priority of Rosalinda B. Barrera, the director of that office.
The National Clearinghouse for English-Language Acquisition recently devoted an issue of its quarterly newsletter to that subject as well.