The English Learners topic supports research to improve the educational outcomes of English Learners (ELs) from kindergarten through high school. The Institute uses the term English Learner under a broad definition encompassing all students whose home language is not English and whose English language proficiency hinders their ability to meet learning and achievement expectations for students at their grade level.
Through this topic, the Institute is interested in reducing the academic achievement gap for the growing number of EL students across the primary and secondary grades. The context in which ELs experience schooling varies greatly regarding diversity of language backgrounds and concentration of ELs, as do the criteria used by states and districts to identify a student as an EL. In addition, ELs' language and literacy skills in both their home languages and in English may be important contributors to their academic development. Several studies that report findings by characteristics such as language proficiency and native language present a more nuanced picture of factors that may influence the learning of ELs. The value of future research is increased through careful attention to how ELs will be selected for study and the linguistic and cultural setting in which studies will take place.
The long-term outcome of this research will be an array of tools and strategies (e.g., assessments, instructional approaches, programs, and policies) that have been documented to be effective for improving academic outcomes for EL students.
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