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Teaching Standards in Central States Vary for English Learners

As the number of students learning English climbs steadily upward in states like Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas, teachers across the spectrum are in need of resources and training to help them develop instructional strategies and skills to work with ELLs.

Today, the Institute for Education Sciences, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, has put out a new report that aims to help teachers in seven states in the central part of the U.S., where educators may have little to no experience working with English learners.

The information in the report, according to its summary, spells out what K-8 general education teachers are expected to know and be able to do to teach ELLs. The report also points out what could be important gaps as it goes over how or if each state's teaching standards include six topics that research has shown are key to improving achievement for English learners.

All seven states include at least two of those six topics in their standards—: differentiating instruction and communicating effectively with students and their families even when their first language is not English.

Colorado and Nebraska only include those two topics, while Missouri has a third topic referenced in its teaching standards—recognizing and supporting diverse language backgrounds.

North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming include all three of those topics plus an additional one—knowing theories of second-language acquisition and related strategies of support.

Finally, Kansas' standards include all the above plus one more topic—assessing students' language status and development.

None of the states' teaching standards reference the sixth topic, which is the selection of materials and curricula to accommodate the learning needs of English learners.

The report—which goes into much more detail about each state—was put together by the Regional Educational Laboratory Central, on behalf of IES.

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