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Southwest English Learners Research Partnership

Workshops and coaching icon

With one of the highest proportions of English learner (EL) students in the nation, New Mexico has prioritized providing high-quality and culturally appropriate EL language instruction. REL Southwest is working with the New Mexico Public Education Department and other partners to support these ongoing efforts.

Goals

  • Identify effective instructional practices for English learner students and increase the use of these practices in New Mexico classrooms.
  • Identify New Mexico schools that exhibit consistently higher gains in English learner students’ success and that may serve as models of effective practice.

Handout

Brenda Arellano, Partnership Facilitator Rachel Garrett head photo
Partnership Facilitator Partnership Research Lead
Brenda Arellano Rachel Garrett
barellano@air.org rgarrett@air.org

Partners

  • Berlinda Begay, Multiethnic Bilingual/Education Coordinator, Central Consolidated School District, New Mexico
  • Richard Cisneros, Instructional Manager, Language and Cultural Equity, Albuquerque Public Schools, New Mexico
  • Geni Flores, Bilingual Program Professor, Eastern New Mexico University, New Mexico
  • Cecilia Hernandez, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, New Mexico State University, New Mexico
  • Katharine Jacobs, Data Analyst, Policy, Measurement, and Innovation Division, New Mexico Public Education Department, New Mexico
  • Kirsi Laine, English Learner Specialist, Language and Culture Bureau, New Mexico Public Education Department, New Mexico
  • David Rogers, Executive Director, Dual Language Education of New Mexico, New Mexico
  • Renee Russ, Deputy Director of Federal Programs, Clovis Public Schools, New Mexico
  • Tenley Ruth, Director of Program Evaluation and Research, Dual Language Education of New Mexico, New Mexico
  • Joe Strickland, Deputy Superintendent, Clovis Public Schools, New Mexico
  • Victoria Tafoya, Director of Operations, Dual Language Education of New Mexico, New Mexico
  • Mayra Valtierrez, Director, Language and Culture Bureau, New Mexico Public Education Department, New Mexico
  • Jessica Villalobos, Senior Director, Language and Cultural Equity, Albuquerque Public Schools, New Mexico

Training, Coaching, and Technical Support

  • Establishing a User Guide for the Promising Practices to Support English Learner Students Resource
    This coaching project continued a REL Southwest collaboration with the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) to strengthen the state’s programs for English learner students. The project, which began in December 2020, consisted of a series of coaching sessions to assist NMPED staff in creating a user guide (4.8 MB) PDF icon for the state’s Enhanced Serving English Learners Monitoring Checklist, which the team renamed Promising Practices to Support English Learner Students (1.8 MB) PDF icon. The user guide is designed to support teachers, site administrators, and district administrators in implementing the research-based practices in the companion resource. This coaching project strengthened New Mexico educators ability to identify effective instructional practices for English learner students and increased the use of those practices in New Mexico classrooms. In addition, the project increased NMPED’s understanding of research+based English learner instructional practices by developing a process map and resources, including a how+to page on using the Promising Practices to Support English Learner Students. This project is phase 3 of an ongoing series of support for New Mexico. In Phase 4, REL Southwest is providing training to New Mexico educators on using the Promising Practices resource and user guide. View archived resources.
  • Implementing the Enhanced Serving English Learners Monitoring Checklist
    This project trains and supports staff from the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) and three districts, Albuquerque Public Schools, Clovis Municipal Schools, and Central Consolidated School District, to use research-based practices for English learner students. REL Southwest is training teams from the districts to use continuous improvement principles and tools for implementing practices in the Enhanced Serving English Learners Monitoring Checklist, a tool developed by REL Southwest and NMPED. The enhanced checklist includes research-based practices drawn from two What Works Clearinghouse practice guides: Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School and Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades. The project supports NMPED’s goals of strengthening programs that help English learners meet academic and English language proficiency growth targets. Project results will guide NMPED and educators in New Mexico with learning and applying continuous improvement tools to test and implement research-based practices for English learner students.
  • Training to Support Collaborative Conversations Between EL Specialists and Classroom Teachers for English Learner Students in New Mexico
    The shift to online and hybrid learning during the COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges for many English learner students and their teachers. At Rio Rancho Public Schools (RRPS) in New Mexico, English Language Development (ELD) coordinators and elementary school teachers also found it difficult to collaborate. To address these issues, REL Southwest partnered with RRPS district and school staff to develop a five-part virtual training series to help ELD coordinators and teachers work together to improve English learner instruction, with a focus on evidence-based practices to foster academic vocabulary development. The 2021 pilot training series engaged site-based RRPS elementary school teams, including ELD coordinators, instructional coordinators, gifted and talented coordinators, the director of Federal and Bilingual Programs, and classroom teachers in kindergarten through grade five. Training resources included a collaborative framework (1.3 MB) PDF icon and vocabulary tutorial modules that draw on the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School (6,775 KB) pdf icon. Each site-based team engaged in a process of co-planning, co-teaching, co-assessing, and co-reflecting that aligned with the collaboration framework. Between sessions, teams completed additional activities. View archived resources.
  • Evidence Review and Training on Instructional Practices for American Indian English Learner Students
    REL Southwest engaged New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) staff and New Mexico educators in a two-phase process to design a training series to assist teacher implementation of effective strategies supporting American Indian English learner students. First, REL Southwest completed an evidence review for methods specific to American Indian students that are effective in incorporating relevant American Indian cultural traditions and pedagogy. Next, REL Southwest and NMPED collaborated on resources that merge understandings from the evidence review with components of the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) Facilitator’s Guide, which is aligned with the Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School educator’s practice guide from the What Works Clearinghouse. We designed a three-part teacher learning series augmented with selected videos and discussion questions from the Center for Standards and Assessment Implications (CSAI) series Culturally Responsive Instruction for American Indian Students to underscore the strategies described in the evidence review. The first training was conducted virtually in May 2021. This project addresses a need for high-quality instructional resources specific to American Indian English learners. Project results will be improved understanding of instructional practices to improve academic English for American Indian English learners. View archived resources.
  • Coaching to Support a Focus Group Study of Biliteracy Seal Implementation
    The New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) offers a state Biliteracy-Bilingualism Seal, which students can earn with their high school diploma. To qualify, students must demonstrate biliteracy proficiency through one of four pathways (including a pathway for Native American tribal language certification by an individual tribe). Through a series of coaching sessions, REL Southwest is assisting NMPED in conducting a focus group study to better understand the approaches and challenges districts and schools face as they promote and implement the Biliteracy-Bilingualism Seal. Coaching support includes helping NMPED partners design the study, develop focus group protocols, learn moderator techniques, conduct the focus groups, and analyze the qualitative results. Last, REL Southwest staff will coach NMPED in using the findings from their study to inform guidance and resource supports for districts and schools implementing the Biliteracy-Bilingualism Seal program that will address common challenges in implementation. Improving these supports is expected to improve the quality of the Seal program, and increase the number of students who pursue and earn the Seal in the state. View archived resources.

Applied Research Studies: Works in Progress

  • Characteristics and Outcomes Among Schools Granting and Students Receiving Biliteracy Seals in an Urban District
    New Mexico is one of 40 states currently offering a seal of biliteracy (or seal of bilingualism–biliteracy) to their graduating high school students. Quantitative research evidence is limited regarding the equitable allocation of seals of biliteracy across students and schools, and the benefits of earning a seal for students. This study will examine the characteristics of students in an urban district in New Mexico who earned biliteracy seals from school year 2017/18 through 2019/20 and the pathways students took to earn the seals. The study will provide insight into the composition of schools offering the seals, requirements that may serve as barriers to earning the seals, and the differences in postsecondary outcomes between students who earned and did not earn biliteracy seals. The New Mexico Public Education Department and the district can use study results as they review their biliteracy seal policies to expand the process of awarding seals, as well as to consider ways to reduce barriers to students obtaining seals.
  • Effects of English Learner Student Reclassification on Student Achievement in New Mexico
    New Mexico requires English learner students to achieve a minimal score of 5.0 on the ACCESS for ELLs assessment, an English language proficiency assessment, to determine whether the students will be reclassified and exit English learner status. The New Mexico Public Education Department seeks to better understand whether the assessment threshold is appropriate for New Mexico students and the implications of reclassification for subsequent student outcomes. This study will examine two groups of similar English learner students: (1) students who attained an ACCESS for ELLs composite score at or above the 5.0 threshold and (2) students who attained a composite score just below 5.0 and remained classified as English learner students. The study will compare average achievement in English language arts and mathematics one year later between these two groups. The findings will help REL Southwest partners understand implications of the reclassification threshold and make decisions about requirements for reclassification. View the Data Management Plan.