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 ...


If you have a large number of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Vietnamese students in your English-as-a-second-language classes, you might want to purchase the summer copy of MultiCultural Review (a single copy is $25) or find one in a library. The issue, which isn't free online, contains an article, "Asian ESL Students and Literacy Development," that tells about the learning styles of Asian students and summarizes some differences between several Asian languages and English. It's written by Peter Edwards, a professor of education at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., and Hui-Chin Yang, a professor of education at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, ...


Over the last few years, the Los Angeles Unified School District has succeeded in dramatically increasing the percentage of English-language learners who are reclassified as fluent in English each year, even though, on average, California school districts have not. One reason: Last school year the Los Angeles district dropped its requirement that for ELLs to be declared fluent in English, they had to reach an achievement bar in math. The percentage of ELLs in Los Angeles who were reclassified as fluent in English during the past school year was 13.4 percent, up from 9.5 percent the previous year, ...


Florida Governor Charlie Crist vetoed a bill this week that would have decreased the number of in-service hours in the area of English as a second language required of reading teachers who work with English-language learners. "I am concerned that this reduction may impede these students' academic, social, and cultural progress," he said of the measure in his June 28 letter explaining his veto. The bill would have reduced the amount of required professional development to 60 hours from 300 hours. (I've taken the link to the veto letter from the Institute of Language and Education Policy site.) Gov. Crist ...


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