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Dual-Language-Learner Group Aims to Bridge Research, Classroom Practice

The New America Foundation has convened a group of dual language-learner experts to address the challenges facing the students and the educators that serve them.

In a report on dual-language learners released Friday, senior researcher Conor P. Williams writes that "DLLs have long been ignored in education policy debates—except when they can be raised as an explanation for schools' weak academic performance."

Founded by Williams, the Dual Language Learners National Work Group will translate the latest research on DLLS to ensure that policymakers are well-informed, spotlight schools and districts adopting novel approaches to educating language-learners, and bring together the nation's leading experts and advocates for high-level discussions.

The group first met in December to survey the current research landscape and identify policy priorities for states and districts, including teacher preparation, valid assessments for DLLs and funding concerns.

Participants expressed concern that: most schools have not changed their approach to teaching dual-language learners in several decades; many assessments fail to identify the academic talent of DLLs; school districts and teacher-preparation programs are not preparing educators to meet the needs of the students.

New America uses the term dual language-learner to denote students who are learning English even as they continue to develop basic proficiency in their home language. The group uses the term English-language learners to refer to older students who are learning English at school but have developed basic proficiency in their home language.


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