Supports For Students Who Are English Learners

Maddy Mavrogordato | Michigan State University
Rebecca Callahan | The University of Texas at Austin
David DeMatthews | The University of Texas at Austin
Elena Izquierdo | The University of Texas, El Paso

Breaking Down the Issue

  • EL students are a rapidly growing and diverse population entitled to English language development instruction that will allow meaningful access to academic content.
  • Complex federal laws govern the education of EL students and continue to hold state and local education agencies accountable for their academic performance even during the pandemic.
  • School leader and teacher training rarely provides sufficient support for how to meet the unique needs of EL students.

Strategies to Consider

  • Concrete steps to embrace the cultural and linguistic assets of EL students, families, and communities can lead to higher levels of trust and engagement among all stakeholders and improve students’ academic identity and achievement.
  • Continuous professional learning, inquiry, and collaboration between EL and general education teachers can improve instruction for EL students.
  • High-quality instructional resources designed specifically for EL students coupled with carefully selected technologies can increase student achievement and language proficiency.
  • Attendance monitoring systems coupled with targeted outreach efforts in students’ native language can help improve attendance for all students, but particularly ELs.
  • Additional funding for EL students provided through Title III and the CARES Act can be invested in key strategies such as extended learning time and small group tutoring.

Strategies to Avoid

  • Even prior to the financial strain caused by the pandemic, there have been concerns about districts diverting funding earmarked for EL students to other uses.
  • Mere translation of content is insufficient to meet EL students’ needs.