Research Aims to Bring English-Learner Data Into Focus
A Washington-based think tank is looking to bring clarity to the complicated process of understanding and using data about English-language learners.
Arguing that data for ELLs is too often misused and misunderstood, New America released two companion reports this week that offer guidance for educators and advocates who want to evaluate this student population accurately and treat these students equitably.
"Pioneering Change: Leveraging Data to Reform English Learner Education in Oregon," examines how Oregon used data to develop a strategic plan to better serve English-learners that focused on revamping instruction, connecting with families, replicating successful programs and ensuring more English-learners had access to preschool.
"Seeing Clearly: Five Lenses to Bring English Learner Data Into Focus" lays out a five-point framework to help policymakers and educators understand how English-learners reach proficiency and what factors guide that development. Among other things, the guide encourages states to publicly communicate their goals for English-learner equity. It also cautions against setting one-size-fits-all timeframes for English-language acquisition and year-to-year growth in English proficiency.
Combined, the reports make the case that state-level work to meet the needs English-learners, the fastest-growing student population in many states, takes on added importance under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the nation's federal K-12 education law. That's because states, not the federal government, will determine how well the students are served.
"In the ESSA era, ensuring equity and transparency for ELs will require expanding the coalition of stakeholders who understand EL-related data beyond just technical experts," said New America policy analyst Janie Tankard Carnock, who researched and wrote the reports.
For more details, take a look at the reports: