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Meeting the needs of Long Term English Learners:. Research and District Responses. Laurie Olsen, Ph.D. Title III Accountability Institute December 2011. English Learners.

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meeting the needs of long term english learners

Meeting the needs of Long Term English Learners:

Research and District Responses

Laurie Olsen, Ph.D.

Title III Accountability Institute

December 2011

english learners
English Learners

“There is no equality of treatment merely by providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers and curriculum…for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education…”

Lau v. Nichols, Supreme Court

Research on


Families, Community

State & Federal



Civil Rights


Prof. development,

teacher placement,



Academic standards, curriculum

III’s Forever

Long Term English Learner

The 1.5 Generation

Protracted English Learners

The 5 Plusers

ESL Lifers

Struggling Readers

secondary el typologies
Secondary EL Typologies
  • Newly arrived with adequate schooling (including literacy in L1)
  • Newly arrived with interrupted formal schooling - “Underschooled” - “SIFE”
  • English Learners developing normatively (1-5 years)
  • Long Term English Learners
GAP has increased 2002-2010 Calif. Standards Test ELA % Proficient and aboveEnglish Only: English Learners

33.4% gap -------------------------- 37.2% gap

“There is no clear, easy reason revealed by data why students are remaining in the LEP category for 10+ years.”

Colorado Department of

Education 2009

“While districts were unanimous in voicing their concern for such students (“Long Term English Learners”), finding effective interventions to move these long term students along the proficiency continuum remains a challenge.”

Council of Great City Schools, 2009

californians together survey
Californians Together Survey
  • Data from 40 school districts
  • Data on 175,734 English Learners in grades 6 - 12
  • This is 31% of California’s English Learners in grades 6 – 12
  • Wide variation in district context
data collected on english learners 6 12
Data collected on English Learners 6 - 12
  • # of years since date of entry
  • Secondary ELs who enrolled in K/1
  • 6+ by CELDT level
  • 6+ by academic failure (Ds, Fs)
  • Definition
  • Placement
definitions vary
Definitions vary
  • Nine of 40 have a formal definition
  • Length of time (years) is part of every definition
  • The number of years used in the definitions vary from 5 years to 7+
  • Six districts include “lack of progress” or evidence of academic failure along with the number of years
legal framework
Legal framework
  • English Learners cannot be permitted to incur irreparable academic deficits during the time they are mastering English
  • School districts are obligated to address deficits as soon as possible, and to ensure that their schooling does not become a permanent deadend.
how long should it take
How long should it take?
  • California’s NCLB AMAO #1 (5 years to reach “CELDT proficiency”
  • Linguistic research (individual differences, but generally 5 - 7 years)
  • Program effectiveness (5-7 years in a well-implemented program; 7-10 in weak program if at all)
a continuum of academic success
A continuum of academic success……

Losing ground on measures of English proficiency and Academic Failure

No progress on measures of English proficiency, academically struggling

Very slow progress towards English Proficiency, doing okay (C’s)

Doing well academically, but still not reclassified

Reclassified but struggling


An English Learner in secondary schools who…..

Has been enrolled in U.S. schools for more than 6 years (continuous enrollment)

Is making inadequate progress in English language development

Is struggling academically

el monte school districts
El Monte school districts

Commitment #2: Full Proficiency

English Learners will develop within six years of continuous enrollment full receptive and productive proficiencies in English in the domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing – consistent with expectations for all students.

Action Steps 
  • A formal definition
  • Designated annual benchmark indicators/ expectations
  • A data system that disaggregates achievement data by # of years in U.S. schools and by English proficiency levels
  • Regular reviews of LTEL data to inform and trigger planning AND to trigger supports for students
district and site inquiries 2004 2011
District and site inquiries(2004-2011)
  • Student interviews retrieving schooling histories
  • Studies of cumulative records
  • Interviews and focus groups with teachers
  • Student voice on the experience of being LTEL
  • Surveys
  • Small research literature
schooling history weak or no language support
Schooling History: weak or no language support
  • Three out of four spent two or more years with “no services” or mainstream
  • Weaker “EL Program” models
nyc study menken kleyn 2010 subtractive schooling
NYC Study (Menken/Kleyn 2010)“Subtractive schooling”
  • Vast majority receive English-only instruction resulting in limited or no literacy skills in L1 OR
  • Weak forms of bilingual education (early exit, transitional) resulting in limited oral and/or written proficiency in L1
  • L1 skills are weakened over time and eventually replaced with English
  • Students report programs emphasized English reading and writing (even the bilingual programs)
trends in california schools 2000 2010
Trends in California schools2000-2010
  • Large increase of students in mainstream placement (no services)
  • Large reduction in primary language instruction (from 12% to 5%)
  • Approximately one in ten with ELD only
  • The majority in Structured English Immersion/ ELD plus SDAIE – large increase (from 35% to 55%)
other contributing factors
Other contributing factors
  • Inconsistent program placement (“ping-pong”)
  • Inconsistent implementation of programs
  • Narrowed curriculum with partial access
  • Social segregation and linguistic isolation
  • Transnational moves – transnational schooling
transnational inconsistent schooling
Transnational inconsistent schooling
  • !2 of 29 students attended school outside the U.S. in a language other than English for a few months and up to 8 years altogether
  • International moves often occur repeatedly creating a cycle of adjustment and readjustment (and new decisions about placement and program)
  • The schooling outside U.S. tended to be for short durations and inconsistent and did not result in L1 literacy
they have distinct language issues
They have distinct language issues
  • High functioning in social situations in both languages – but limited vocabulary in both
  • Can sound like non-LTELs
  • Prefer English – are increasingly weak in their home language
  • Weak academic language – with gaps in reading and writing skills
  • Are stuck in progressing towards English proficiency
down the rabbit hole
Down the rabbit hole…….
  • “Good working knowledge of English”
  • Reasonable fluency in English
  • CELDT Proficient
  • Advanced level on CELDT
  • Basic on CST - ELA
  • Proficient on CST in ELA
  • Reclassification as Fluent English Proficient
orally proficient but not academically proficient
Orally Proficient but not Academically Proficient

Percent English Learners attaining these benchmarks statewide

language use and preferences
Language use and preferences
  • Majority use both languages equally in conversation - context is the factor in choice
  • Students overwhelmingly favor and report being more comfortable reading and writing in English
academic performance
Academic Performance
  • Several grade levels below actual grade level in both English and L1
  • Cumulative high school GPA is very low (D+ average)
  • More than one in five have F averages
  • Grade retention frequent
  • Gaps in academic background
behavioral profiles
Behavioral profiles
  • Learned passivity and non-engagement
  • Tend not to complete homework
  • Not readers
  • Typically desire to go to college
  • Do not know they are doing poorly academically – think they are English fluent
action steps
Action Steps….. 
  • Be sure there is understanding about what constitutes sufficient English proficiency for academic access – clarify the terms
  • Analyze grades, English proficiency levels and growth/stagnation/loss – where are they stuck?
  • Shadow – check for engagement and participation
typical program placements for english learners
Typical program placementsfor English Learners


Intensive or strategic interventions!

Still English Learner, but in Mainstream

1 – 3 years

    


No English

Oral, social English

CELDT Proficient

Proficient for Academic work

CST Basic


from the californians together survey
From the Californians Together survey
  • 3 of 4 districts have no approach to serving Long Term English Learners
  • Majority of CA districts place their Long Term English Learners into mainstream
  • Three CA districts place Long Term English Learners by English proficiency level with other English Learners (in NYC, this is the common placement)
Placements NOT designed for them…..
  • Placed/kept in classes with newcomer and normatively developing English Learners – by English proficiency level
  • Unprepared teachers
  • No electives – and limited access to the full curriculum
  • Over-assigned and inadequately served in intervention and reading support classes
on the issue of interventions
On the issue of interventions
  • CAL (“Double the Work”) - reading interventions designed for native speakers aren’t appropriate for ELLs
  • National Literacy Panel - good literacy and reading interventions work for both ELL and proficient students - but they work BETTER for English proficient students (gap grows) and do not address some key needs of LTELs
  • From the 1.5 generation research on college students, and linguistics research - appears that WRITING may be a more powerful emphasis than READING strategies for LTELs
things to ask
Things to ask…….
  • Where are they placed for English? ELD?
  • Where are they placed for academic content?
  • What interventions and support classes do they receive?
  • Are they getting access to electives?
  • Are they in college preparatory courses?
  • Are any of those placements designed for LTELs? Do they have appropriate support for EL success?
Research on


Youth Development

Families, Community

Civil Rights

State & Federal




Prof. development,

teacher placement,



Academic standards, curriculum

common belief system
Common belief system
  • Sooner and more fully immersed in English, the better
  • Good teaching and standards-based curriculum work for all students and are sufficient for ELLs
  • English is the most important subject for ELLs – the more hours, the better
  • Home language holds students back
new generation of research
New generation of research
  • National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Children and Youth
  • California Department of Education: Research-based Practices for English Language Learners (commissioned papers)
basic foundations to know
Basic foundations to KNOW
  • Continue to need ELD and support until reach proficiency (normatively 5 -7 years)
  • A strong foundation in L1 is foundation for L2. Skills transfer.
  • Continued development of L1 in school along with English strengthens English proficiency and promotes long term academic success
  • Language development is more than literacy development – a focus on literacy alone is not sufficient for English Learners
“Academic language” is different from social language and takes longer to develop
  • Oral language is the foundation for literacy and is a crucial part of a strong language program for English Learners
  • Academic language develops in the context of learning academic subjects. A strong EL program infuses intentional language development throughout the entire curriculum.
  • There are social, economic and cognitive benefits to mastery of two or more languages – particularly in this 21st century.
basic principles
Basic Principles!
  • Focus upon distinct needs
  • Language development is more than literacy development – LTELs need both
  • Language development + Academic gaps
  • Crucial role of home language
  • Invite, support, insist that LTELs become active participants in their own education
Maximum integration without sacrificing access
  • Rigor, relevance, active engagement and empowering pedagogy
  • Relationships matter
  • An affirming, inclusive environment
  • Urgency!
instruction matters
Instruction matters…..
  • Differentiation
  • Checks for understanding
  • Accountability
  • Active student engagement
  • Standards-based
  • Maximum language development structures and practices
secondary school components
Secondary school components
  • Specialized ELD – separate from other ELs
  • Clustered in heterogeneous classes for content
  • Explicit language/literacy development across the curriculum –& SDAIE strategies for access
  • Focus on study skills, critical thinking
  • If interventions/supports – designed for LTELs
  • Data chats, preparation, accommodations
  • Programs, activities, student leadership to create an affirming school climate
  • Native speakers classes (through AP)
seems to be power in sns that is both spanish literacy and enhances english skills
Seems to be power in SNS that is both Spanish literacy AND enhances English skills
  • Explicitly links transferability of cognitive skills, cognitive and vocabulary development, academic language, writing structures, rigorous writing assessment
  • Is aligned to state English language arts standards
  • Solid preparation for AP language and AP literature
  • Focused on high level of oral, reading and writing skills - while enhancing English skills
  • Includes cultural focus and empowering pedagogy
case examples

Case Examples

Ventura Unified School District

Modesto City Schools

Anaheim Union High School District

El Monte School Districts

ventura s district action plan
Ventura’s District Action Plan
  • Title III Improvement Plan “Operation Prevent LTELs”
  • ELL courses revised
  • ELD course sequence rewritten
  • ELD4 and SDAIE are UC/CSU accepted
  • Clear placement criteria for all courses
  • Two periods of instruction for ELD
  • Appropriate curriculum and technology
  • Pacing guides and assessment routines
  • Common sequence of language functions for ELD K-5
investment in
Investment in
  • Intensive professional development
  • PLCs across academic content areas
  • LTEL student fishbowls
  • Bilingual Opportunities Pathway Program
  • Multilingual Recognition Awards
  • Student Pep Talks
  • Administrative and leadership structures to keep issue on table and to maintain accountability
ventura unified school district results so far
Ventura Unified School DistrictResults so far….
  • Substantial increase in reclassification rates at pilot high schools (from 14% to 20.9% - compared to district average 9.1% - 9.5%)
  • Improved growth on CELDT (from 44.9% moving 1 level to 60.9%; from 22.2% achieving proficiency to 26.8%)
Modesto City Schools
  • K-8 and 9-12 Districts

Title I and Title III Program Improvement Status Year 5

  • Established a Working Group (representative)
  • One year to “study” and develop recommendations
  • Investment in implementing plan
5 program 9 th grade
5+ Program9th Grade


World Religions/Health

classes in summer

school or senior year.

Computers in any four

years, summer school,

or test out


differentiated placement in 9 th gr
Differentiated placement in 9th gr.
  • 2 period block of Read 180, using L book by Kate Kinsella(accepted as ELD) with a bilingual paraprofessional (for students who are really intensive and struggling at all levels academically) – for Freshman year only
  • High end of Below Basic/low Basic 


  • Advanced or Proficient on ELA-CST 

opt out of ALD and are monitored

Literacy and language across curriculum
  • Biliteracy as a 21st century skill: Spanish for Native Speakers, Seal of Biliteracy, expansion of Dual Language program
  • Commitment to a broad, full 21st century curriculum (decrease placements in support classes, CAHSEE prep classes, etc.; no more double blocking; institute 2 science/social studies at junior h.s.; build career technical education – industry pathways)
ltel el support
LTEL/EL Support
  • ELD 4 Language Support high school; English language mainstream language support middle school; courses designed for LTELs
in two years takes a 3 5 year commitment
In two years….“Takes a 3-5 year commitment”
  • API has gone up 31 points
  • Reclassification has increased
  • Higher English Learner 10th grade CAHSEE passage rates
el monte districts
El Monte districts
  • 2 elementary districts + 1 high school district
  • “Expectations” and commitment in common
  • Summer programs – thematic instruction, science and social studies based, intensive language development
  • Mentoring
  • Investment in professional development for content area teachers
  • New ELD/ALD courses and materials
Action Steps 
  • Fact finding
  • District EL Master Plan describes research-based program models for different typologies of EL students (or site)
  • Specific LTEL program and placements
  • Support development of new courses
  • Provide materials and professional development – as high priority for use of resources
  • System of monitoring placements
  • Mechanisms to change status of L1 and promote biliteracy
prevent ltels quick review
Prevent LTELs - Quick review
  • Need for program consistency in placement
  • Need for well-articulated programs
  • Need for English Learner services (incl. ELD)
  • Importance of developing L1 along with English
  • Need to assure access to academic content while learning English so no gaps develop
  • Need a full curriculum
  • Need to monitor and identify students lagging behind – triggering support
prevent ltels
Prevent LTELs
  • Early foundation of rich language development (PreK-3) in English and the home language (where possible)
  • Alignment, articulation and transition between PreK and elementary grades
  • Full curriculum – with language development across all content areas
  • Focus on engagement and high level oral language development
  • Shared assessments
  • Parent/Family Engagement
respond to systems issues
Respond to “systems” issues:
  • Data systems that can’t identify and monitor progress
  • Unprepared teachers
  • Lack of appropriate curriculum and materials
  • Misunderstanding and lack of knowledge of the research
  • Lack of clarity about what constitutes “English Proficiency”
  • Contradictory or misaligned messages across the “system”
proactive district policies and support
Proactive District Policies and Support
  • A definition and system for monitoring
  • Designated annual benchmark expectations by number of years and English proficiency
  • Inquiry
  • Research based programs –including specific responses for LTELs
  • Disaggregate data
  • Target professional development for teachers
  • Create needed courses
  • Student and parent information
california state level recommendations
California State level recommendations
  • A standard state definition
  • State collection of data to identify, monitor and plan
  • Real ELD materials!
  • Research-based, consistent messages as the foundation for accountability
  • Professional development priority
  • Ensure full access
Step #8:

Leadership and Advocacy

English Learners cannot, in the words of the court, “be permitted to incur irreparable academic deficits” during the time they are mastering English…. We must ensure that their schooling does not become “a permanent deadend.”