Recommendations to Keep ELLs Challenged and Graduating

In previous posts, we reviewed President Obama’s recent town hall remarks on Hispanic educational attainment and discussed the challenges faced by English language learners in accessing challenging coursework and fulfilling graduation requirements.  Getting students on track early in high school by ensuring access to college preparatory coursework in English and mathematics is critical to keeping them on track to fulfilling college entrance requirements. The National High School Center’s publication, Educating English Language Learners at the High School Level, offers several recommendations:

For State-Level Policymakers and Administrators:

  • Identify high schools and districts demonstrating high levels of success in educating ELLs, and increase opportunities for others to learn from them.
  • Focus monitoring efforts to ensure that students’ ELL status does not impede their full access to the core curriculum.
  • While maintaining reclassification as a locally-determined milestone, specify clear performance standards for key statewide measures of ELL progress and achievement.
  • Support ELLs by allocating additional resources.
  • Foster development of English language development (ELD) curriculum and instructional plans aligned with the state’s ELD standards.
  • Foster data use to guide ELL policy and instruction.
  • Support the professional development necessary to help teachers promote ELLs’ English language development and academic achievement, and ensure appropriate deployment of skilled teachers to schools in which they are needed most.

For Districts and Their Schools:

  • Districts should articulate ELL policies across classes, grades, and schools.
  • Districts should use data to guide policy and instruction.
  • Except under very limited circumstances, schools and districts should offer ELLs the same range of challenging coursework that is offered to English-speaking students.
  • Districts should support the ongoing, job-embedded professional development necessary to promote ELLs’ ELD and academic achievement and ensure appropriate deployment of skilled teachers to schools in which they are needed most.
  • Schools should emphasize literacy, personalized learning communities, distributed leadership, and teacher collaboration.


Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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