A Focused Look At Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants That Have High Percentages of English Language Learner Students
The Study of School Turnaround examines the improvement process in a purposive sample of 35 case study schools receiving federal funds through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program over a three-year period (2010–11 to 2012–13 school years). This evaluation brief focuses on 11 of these SIG schools with high proportions of English Language Learner (ELL) students (a median of 45 percent ELLs). Key findings that emerged from the ELL case study data collected in fall 2011 include:
- Although all 11 schools reported providing specialized supports for ELL students, the schools’ approaches to improvement during the initial phase of SIG appeared to include only moderate or limited attention to the unique needs of ELLs.
- District and school administrators perceived challenges related to teachers' expertise and skills in meeting the unique needs of ELLs; however, teachers’ perceptions of their own capacity were more mixed. The capacity of the schools’ district offices to support ELLs appeared to vary as well, with two small districts reporting no district-level staff with ELL training or experience and seven larger districts reporting district-level English-as-a-second-language (ESL) departments with multiple trained staff members.
- Schools that appeared to provide stronger attention to the unique needs of ELLs in their improvement process were more likely to report having school staff dedicated to ELL needs, such as ELL coordinators, ELL coaches, and ESL/bilingual teachers and tutors. Such schools also were more likely to be located in districts that reportedly provided expertise and an explicit focus on ELLs within the context of SIG.
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