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Education Department Seeks English-Learner Research Priorities

The Education Department is looking for guidance in how it should target research to improve the academic achievement of students learning English, in the midst of ongoing debate on the use and effectiveness of federal language-learning grants.

In today's Federal Register, the department calls for members of the public and research community to weigh in on which of the following ELL topic areas most need new study or reviews of literature:

• Identification, screening, and testing practices for English-learners, such as those for young children, students with disabilities and those whose formal schooling has been sporadic;
• Proper data collection, analysis, and decision-making using ELL testing data;
• Ways to align standards for English-language proficiency with college- and career-ready content standards;
• Features of effective instruction for English-learners that improve English proficiency, academic and social language, and content understanding;
• The use of technology for ELL instruction;
• Effective teacher professional development for those who work with English-learners.

Comments must be received by Oct. 9.

The request comes on the heels of a similar call for guidance last week on technical assistance for schools working with English-language learners. Advocates for English-learners—the fastest-growing student group in public schools—have voiced concern that Title III, the federal grants intended to serve these students, are often improperly used and ineffective. Because children in families whose primary language is not English often act as translators for other family members, the impact of their English development can affect entire families.

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