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Regional English Learner Research Alliance


Building on more than 10 years supporting educators in providing high-quality instruction to English learner students, REL Northeast & Islands launched the Regional English Learner Research Alliance in Fall 2019.

The Alliance expands the Connecticut English Learner Research Partnership, which for three years focused on supporting stakeholders at all levels in Connecticut districts to have a shared understanding of how to provide high-quality, evidence-based instruction to English learner students.

The Alliance includes members from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These members are refining and expanding on the partnership’s goal to address regionwide issues around culturally relevant instruction, increasing collaboration across educational content areas, improving graduation rates, and appropriately serving the diverse population of English learners.


Sheila RodriguezSheila Rodriguez
Research Associate
REL Northeast & Islands

Cerelle MorrowCerelle Morrow
Alliance Co-Lead
REL Northeast & Islands


USVI English Learner Project: Supporting EL Program Plan Development and Implementation of Evidence-based Practices
The Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE) has identified the academic achievement of English learners as an important priority, given the growth in their English learner population. In 2019, through a series of virtual and face-to-face coaching sessions, REL Northeast & Islands worked with VIDE staff members who support English learners to identify gaps or needs in existing programs. In 2020, REL Northeast & Islands has been working with VIDE staff in developing professional learning webinars to address those gaps and to build the capacity of educators (including classroom teachers, special education teachers, and English learner teachers) to implement evidence-based practices for English learners across the islands.  Four webinars will be offered in Winter/Spring 2021, with each focused on evidence-based practices teachers can utilize in the classroom. Session 1 will focus on integrated and designated English language development; Session 2 will be on academic discussion; Session 3 will focus on scaffolding; and Session 4 will be on formative assessments. Learn more about this work in a blog post.

Training and Technical Support Project: Supporting Connecticut Educators in Determining Special Education Eligibility of English Learner Students
CSDE has prioritized improving the achievement levels of English learner students, particularly those who are identified as having disabilities. REL Northeast & Islands worked with CSDE and other partnership members to explore how districts vary in the processes they use for disability identification and the subsequent provision of services to English learners who may be struggling. This project supported CSDE in generating hypotheses about which practices may be leading to over-identification of English learner students with disabilities and about how identification of a disability shapes the educational experiences of English learner students, as well as about promising practices that may contribute to appropriate identification and quality instruction.

Training Project: Data-Driven Implementation of Tiered Interventions with English Learners: A Series of In-Depth Workshops with Districts
Building off the 2018 webinar series on multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) and English learners, REL Northeast & Islands researchers developed and delivered three in-depth workshops for Connecticut educators on how to use data to distinguish between language-based and other learning challenges faced by English learners and how to implement scientific research-based interventions (SRBI) to meet students’ needs. The workshops provided five district teams of three to seven educators with focused support and the opportunity to interact closely with one another as they delved into the practice and application of data use for SRBI delivery. The teams identified a specific strategy or tool to employ or an activity to conduct between sessions, and each workshop began with reflections on these activities as well as the identification of next steps.

Session 1: November 19–20, 2018
Hamden, CT, and Hartford, CT
Participants reviewed instructional strategies for English learners most appropriate for Tier II interventions and strategized specific steps to implement between Sessions 1 and 2. Key sources for evidence-based practices included the IES Practice Guide, “Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School.”

Session 2: February 25, 2019
Virtual Session
Participants focused on instructional strategies for English learners most appropriate for Tier III interventions. Presenters provided additional resources, including Guiding Questions practitioners can use when determining whether Tier III interventions are appropriate.

Webinar Training Series: Data-Driven Implementation of Tiered Interventions with English Learners
This three-part training series provided district teams and educators with specific strategies to guide instruction for English learners using the three tiers of multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS). Session 1 focused on understanding MTSS and Tier 1 instruction for English learner students; Sessions 2 and 3 focused on MTSS Tiers 2 and 3 for English learners. District teams were encouraged to attend the three webinars together in order to coordinate data-driven instruction among general education, special education, and English learner teachers. View event details and materials.

Training Project: Practitioner Data Use Workshop for English Learner Teachers at Connecticut Technical High Schools (September 13, 2017) New Britain, CT
Using REL Northeast & Islands’ Practitioner Data Use Workshop materials, 20 teachers participated in a daylong workshop where they learned to analyze their own English learner student data to identify appropriate instructional interventions to address academic and language needs. View event details.

Webinar: Including Ever-English Learner Students in Accountability and Continuous Improvement (June 21, 2017)
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) allows English learners reclassified as English proficient to be included as English learners for accountability purposes for up to four years after reclassification. Yet recent research indicates that looking at students who were ever classified as English learners—“ever-English learner students”—provides important information for states, districts, and schools. This webinar shared results from a REL Northeast & Islands report that includes all English learner students in calculations of New York City (NYC) high school graduation rates, whether or not they had been reclassified as English proficient. “Graduation outcomes of students who entered New York City public schools in grade 5 or 6 as English learner students,” uses longitudinal administrative data to analyze the four-year, five-year, and six-year graduation rates of ever-English learner students in NYC. Study authors Drs. Michael J. Kieffer and Caroline E. Parker were joined by Oregon State University Assistant Professor Dr. Karen Thompson, who presented results from a similar study using ever-English learner students to measure graduation rates in Oregon. Presenters explored the implications of using ever-English learners in both accountability and continuous improvement. View event details.


Name Title Organization State/Territory
Megan Alubicki-Flick English Learner Consultant Academic Office, Connecticut State Dept. of Education Connecticut
Migdalia Arthurton Bilingual/ESL Coordinator U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE) U.S. Virgin Islands
Thomas Bailey Director of School Improvement Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) Puerto Rico
George Coleman Early Childhood Consultant State Education Resource Center Connecticut
Linda Darcy Education Specialist in English Learners, World Languages, Social Equity and Justice Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) Connecticut
Ross Garmil Associate in Educational Planning and Policy New York State Department of Education (NYSED) New York
Sibel Hughes Assistant Director, Language Acquisition Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) Massachusetts
Kellie Jones Director of Bilingual Education Brockton Public Schools Massachusetts
Emily Klein Education Specialist, Office of Student, Community and Academic Supports Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) Rhode Island
Fernanda Kray Senior Policy Analyst University of Wisconsin-Madison Massachusetts
Yvette McMahon-Arnold State Director of Instructional Development U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE) U.S. Virgin Islands
Pedro Mendia-Landa Director of English Learners New Haven Public Schools Connecticut
Flavia Molea-Baker English Language Education Program Coordinator Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) Rhode Island
Patricia Nieves English Program Director Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) Puerto Rico
Jose Perez State Director of Instructional Development U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE) U.S. Virgin Islands
April Perkins Director of ESOL/Bilingual Programs & Title III, Academic Office Maine Department of Education Maine
Jennifer Scully Assistant in Bilingual Education New York State Department of Education (NYSED) Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages New York
Maggie Stevens Resource Specialist Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) Connecticut
Kendra Winner Research and Evaluation Coordinator Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) Massachusetts