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What Works Clearinghouse Sheds No Light on Effectiveness of SIOP

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I'm not surprised by the following bit of news from the What Works Clearinghouse of the U.S. Department of Education, which has been dubbed the "Nothing Works" Clearinghouse.

The clearinghouse has taken a look at studies of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, or SIOP, a framework for teaching English-language learners content and English at the same time, to determine the effectiveness of the approach. It found that none of the eight studies meets the "evidence standards" of the clearinghouse and thus no conclusions can be drawn about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of SIOP.

I just wrote on this blog about how it appears SIOP, a set of strategies that mainstream teachers can use to reach ELLs in their classrooms, is sweeping the country.

The 2008 annual report of the Center for Applied Linguistics says that the center provided professional-development services in SIOP to a dozen different school districts and other individual schools or education entities in 2008. Among them were public school systems in Austin, Texas; Beaufort County, S.C.; Chapel Hill-Carrboro City schools in North Carolina; East Baton Rouge, La.; and Loudoun County, Va.

Of the 33 reviews of learning interventions for ELLs that the clearinghouse has conducted, 14 bear the label "no studies meeting evidence standards" or "no studies meeting eligibility screens."

1 Comment

While I'm not knowledgeable about the criteria that the clearinghouse is using, I'm not bothered that a specific standard is being applied. We have a great amount of research in the education field that really only qualified as 'action research, applicable only at the specific site where it was conducted. While those findings can give us good ideas to test on our own, it's not sufficient for stating that the intervention will work everywhere.

It doesn't mean that the ideas are bad, just that the rigor of the research isn't sufficient to base wide ranging and far reaching decision upon.

I'm not sure that the WWC is the right agency to be creating and applying standards, but I'm glad someone is. We need to know which of the research and touted approaches/solutions are likely to work for all of us.

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