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RELEASE: Preparing All Teachers to Meet the Needs of English Language Learners

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Contact: Katie Peters
Phone: 202.741.6285
Email: kpeters@americanprogress.org

Read the report.

Washington, D.C. — A new report from the Center for American Progress released today outlines promising practices that all teachers can employ to meet the needs of English language learners.

The recent increase in immigration accounts for rapid and substantial demographic changes in the United States’s school-aged population. An estimated 25 percent—one-in-four—children in America are from immigrant families and live in households where a language other than English is spoken. This has significant implications for schools and the current discourse about the role of teacher quality and effectiveness in improving outcomes.

English language learners, or ELLs, require special attention particularly because of their growing numbers and low-performance relative to their non-ELL peers. While educational specialists such as English as a second language and bilingual teachers have expertise in supporting ELLs, many teachers do not. Yet the reality is that most, if not all, teachers have or can expect to have ELL students in their classroom and therefore must be prepared to best support these children.

The report, Preparing All Teachers to Meet the Needs of English Language Learners, summarizes key findings drawn from the literature on promising practices that all teachers can employ when working with ELLs. The report takes into account the degree to which such research is integrated into the preparation, certification, and evaluation of teachers as a means for improving educational outcomes for ELLs and sheds light on gaps in policy and practice pertaining to general education teachers of ELLs.

In order to identify essential knowledge and skills that can be purposefully integrated into teacher-development programs, the report examines five key states—California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas—that have large numbers of English language learners. The report’s authors, Jennifer Samson and Brian Collins, argue that system-level changes must be made to establish evidence-based practices among general education teachers of ELLs.

In order to improve teacher effectiveness with ELL students, the report recommends consistent and specific guidelines on the oral language, academic language, and cultural needs of ELL students be addressed in:

  • Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA
  • Revisions to National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, or NCATE, Standards
  • State regulations
  • Teacher-preparation programs
  • State certification exams
  • Teacher-observation rubrics in performance evaluations
  • Professional development linked to teacher evaluations

Read the report: Preparing All Teachers to Meet the Needs of English Language Learners: Applying Research to Policy and Practice for Teacher Effectiveness by Jennifer F. Samson and Brian A. Collins

To speak with an expert on this topic, contact Katie Peters at 202.741.6285 or kpeters@americanprogress.org

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