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Using No Child Left Behind Waivers to Improve English Language Learner Education

Using No Child Left Behind Waivers to Improve English Language Learner Education

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Theodora Chang discusses the benefits of No Child Left Behind waivers for English language learners and English as a second language teachers.
Theodora Chang discusses the benefits of No Child Left Behind waivers for English language learners and English as a second language teachers.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Aug 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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1Center or American Progress | Using No Child Let Behind Waivers to Improve English Language Learner Education
Using No Child Left Behind Waiversto Improve English LanguageLearner Education
 Theodora Chang August 31, 2012
Te No Child Le Behind law undamenally changed he expecaions and daa haschools should have or heir English language learner sudens. Te landmark 1974 Lau v. Nichols Supreme Cour case concluded ha sudens who speak English as a secondlanguage have a righ o a “meaningul educaion.” Bu No Child Le Behind—a reauhorizaion o he Elemenary and Secondary Educaion Ac—was he rs law o hold schools and disrics accounable or he achievemen o heir English languagelearner sudens. Te law requires disrics and schools o disaggregae and repor daa by suden subgroups, including English language learners, and o ake acion i hey dono make sucien academic progress. A decade aer No Child Le Behind becamelaw, here is sill a large achievemen gap beween English language learner sudens andheir English-procien peers. More han hree imes as many English language learnersudens score below he basic level on eighh-grade naional mah and reading examsas heir whie, English-procien peers.
In Sepember 2011 Presiden Barack Obama announced ha his adminisraion would waive cerain Elemenary and Secondary Educaion Ac requiremens in exchange orreorms proposed by saes in our principle areas: 
Principle 1:
Meeing college- and career-ready expecaions or all sudens 
Principle 2:
Creaing sae-developed diereniaed recogniion, accounabiliy,and suppor 
Principle 3:
Supporing eecive leadership and insrucion 
Principle 4:
Reducing duplicaion and unnecessary burden
 Te Obama adminisraion is argeing several improvemens relaed o English lan-guage learners hrough is process or graning Elemenary and Secondary Educaion Ac waivers. Specically, hose reviewing saes’ waiver applicaions have been encour-
2Center or American Progress | Using No Child Let Behind Waivers to Improve English Language Learner Education
aged o consider he manner in which saes address he needs o English languagelearners in each o hese principle areas, wih he excepion o principle our.
Eleven saes applied or and received waivers in early February 2012 as par o he rsround o applicaions. weny-six saes plus he Disric o Columbia applied or henex round o waivers.
Te U.S. Deparmen o Educaion is currenly reviewing hoseapplicaions and had approved waivers or 23 saes a he ime o publicaion.In his column we consider he signicance o improving insrucion or English lan-guage learners. In addiion, we ouline he ways in which he waiver applicaion review process encourages saes o address he needs o English language learner sudens aspar o he rs and hird principles relaed o college- and career-ready expecaions ando leadership and insrucion—he issues relaed o principle 2 are oo exensive o delveino in his column and hereore are no discussed a lengh.
Finally, we highligh hesae o New York, which submited a very deailed and houghul waiver applicaion wih respec o meeing he needs o is English language learners. As par o our review, we examined all second-round applicaions o analyze how well hey addressed heneeds o English language learners relaed o principles one and hree, hough we oundha mos saes lacked deailed plans. Tus, we ocus on New York in his paper, whichsood ou or is comprehensive approach o he issue.
 The need for improving instruction for English language learners
Tere is litle quesion ha all eachers will soon need o have he skills o be successul wih English language learner sudens. In he decade rom 1998 o 2008, he numbero English language learner sudens increased rom 3.5 million o 5.3 million, andresearchers esimae ha 1 in 10 public school sudens in he Unied Saes is an Englishlanguage learner suden.
Tis means ha general educaion classroom eachers, whomay be accusomed o working primarily wih sudens who speak English fuenly, willneed o adap heir eaching echniques o reach sudens who have varying levels o English language prociency. A recen sudy ound ha eachers who received specialized insrucional rainingor eaching English language learners made a signican impac on heir sudens’learning.
Ye ew eachers acually receive his kind o suppor. Naionally, eacherpreparaion programs vary widely in erms o providing in-deph raining on insruc-ional sraegies or English language learners and mehods o addressing he needs o sudens wih varying levels o language prociency.
Once in he classroom, eachersoen nd ha heir disrics and schools do no include he proessional developmenha is specically designed o address he needs o English language learner sudens.Furhermore, here are inconsisencies across sae cericaion requiremens when icomes o he required knowledge and skills ha all eachers should have or eaching
3Center or American Progress | Using No Child Let Behind Waivers to Improve English Language Learner Education
English language learners. eacher observaion sysems, which are increasingly used omeasure eacher eeciveness, also end o vary in how hey assess eachers in meeinghe needs o English language learner sudens.
Te Elemenary and Secondary Educaion Ac waivers oer saes an opporuniy o pressahead wih eors ha improve insrucion or English language learners. Te waiverapplicaion and review process encourages saes o consider how heir sae sandardscan suppor learning and insrucion or English language learners and how eacherand leader evaluaion sysems can improve he qualiy o insrucion or hese sudens. Accounabiliy, oo, plays an imporan role in improving insrucion and is a key area hasaes mus address in heir waiver applicaions. For he purposes o his column, however, we ocus solely on he principles relaed o sae sandards and leadership and insrucion.Elsewhere we have examined sae plans or heir accounabiliy sysems.
What makes a high-quality waiver application for English languagelearners and their teachers?
Te U.S. Deparmen o Educaion issued guidance o direc reviewers as hey consid-ered saes’ waiver applicaions and o help saes develop “high-qualiy requess” or waivers.
Te Educaion Deparmen denes a high-qualiy reques as being “compre-hensive and coheren in is approach and … clearly indicaes how his fexibiliy willhelp … improve suden achievemen and he qualiy o insrucion or sudens.”
Tereview guidance promps reviewers and saes o consider how he needs o Englishlanguage learners are being addressed under each principle.
States are encouraged to ensure that English language learnershave the opportunity to achieve state college- and career-readystandards at a minimum by:
Analyzing the linguistic demands o their college- and career-ready standards and using results to develop or revise existingEnglish language profciency standards
Providing proessional development and other support toprepare incoming and current teachers to help all students,including English language learners, meet expectations set bythe standards
Developing and disseminating high-quality instructional materi-als aligned to the new standards that support the teaching andlearning o all students, including English language learners
Working with institutions o higher education and otherteacher and leader preparation programs to better preparenew teachers and leaders to teach all students, includingEnglish language learners
Principle 1: Meeting college- and career-ready expectations for all students

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