I'm in danger of doing nothing in the next hour but reading a profile of Meskhetian Turks published by the Cultural Orientation Resource Center of the Center for Applied Linguistics. That profile and other shorter "Refugee Backgrounders" contain fascinating information about the history and culture of selected groups of people--such as Banyamulenge Tutsi from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who have been resettled in the United States this year and who I've never heard of. The profiles are a great resource for educators who are receiving these children in schools. I just learned about the reports through the Center ...


First, Utah lawmakers conducted an audit of how much it costs the state to educate undocumented children in K-12 public schools. Now they're using that audit to ask the federal government to cover the cost, which was between $54.9 million and $85.4 million in 2006, as reported by an Associated Press reporter and published in the Salt Lake Tribune and other newspapers last week. Last year, New Mexico Voices for Children estimated in a report that state and local governments in New Mexico spent between $49 million and $67 million in educating undocumented children each year. While the ...


I inquired about current research on English-language learners funded by the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education, and the staff sent me a list of 32 projects that are in the works. Some focus on ELLs exclusively, and others include large samples of such students. I had no idea that the institute was paying for so many studies about these students and I wonder if at some point in my reporting about ELLs, I'll no longer read that high-quality research about instruction for them is scant. Here's the list of projects that the staff compiled. (The...


New York was not one of the states I contacted when reporting for an article recently about how not many states are offering detailed guidance or workshops for school districts on how to write a curriculum for English-language learners. "States Lag in ELL Curriculum Guidance" was published July 5 on edweek.org. A reader of the article thus sent me an e-mail to let me know that New York--like Florida and Massachusetts--provides advice on how to create curricula for ELLs. Terri Brady-Méndez, a specialist in programs for ELLs for the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Bellport, N.Y.,...


Arizona policymakers are using a buzz phrase popular in education circles in saying the models for structured English immersion that school districts must implement this fall are "research-based." But a document released by the Arizona Department of Education citing research to back those models shows that, for some aspects of the models, the research base is scant. The document acknowledges that high-quality research in general about instruction for English-language learners is limited. The state is calling for English-language learners, in their first year in U.S. schools, to receive four hours of instruction each day in a separate block of ...


The Omaha, Neb., school district is reportedly about to join eight other public school districts in offering dual-language classes in Spanish and English for students from kindergarten through high school. In dual-language programs, children who are dominant in English and children who are dominant in Spanish--or another language other than English--take classes together in both languages. A July 9 article in the Houston Chronicle tells how the Texas legislature approved a bill to create a six-year pilot project for dual-language programs in 10 Texas school districts. Because I so frequently read news articles about schools starting up these kinds of ...


David J. Francis, a psychology professor at the University of Houston and the director of the National Research and Development Center for English Language Learners, has an interesting proposal for how accountability provisions for English-language learners could be improved in reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. I hear through my sources that congressional aides have invited at least one expert on assessment of ELLs into their offices this summer to hear advice on how to reauthorize the act--but I haven't heard if they've contacted Mr. Francis about his views. Mr. Francis proposes that the accountability system for ELLs ...


A column that ran in the New York Times last week tells how Allison Rabenau, an English-as-a-second-language teacher in New York City, struggled over three school years to reduce the amount of time she spent both at the beginning and end of each school year "to prepare, administer, then score a standardized test for English fluency." One school year, she spent 12 weeks on testing matters. Samuel G. Freedman, a journalism professor at Columbia University and the writer of the column, notes that Ms. Rabenau resigned this past school year from New York City's schools and expects to soon move ...


Educators should be very deliberate in teaching English-language learners how to read, and one effective way to do that is to test their reading progress frequently--and use the data to tailor instruction to them. That conclusion is contained in a research-based "practice guide" on ELLs published by the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education last week. The authors of the guide, "Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades," say research evidence for data-driven instruction for English-language learners is "strong." Teachers need to be poised to provide intensive reading interventions ...


I've gotten to the part where several students are trapped in an elevator that is taking them down into the magma chamber of a volcano with inventions they prepared for a school science class. The students--who include Tron, from Vietnam, and Amira, from Morocco--are characters in a novel, The Eight Ball Club: Ocean of Fire. M.C. Pugin-Rodas, who has a master's degree in English as a second language and taught ESL in Virginia's public schools, published it this summer for secondary English-language learners and developing readers. There's a bit too much classroom banter in the first two chapters for ...


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