Effective Language and Reading Interventions for English Language Learners
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Assessment of language and achievement results drive:classification and identification of ELLs; andeducational placements and support services
Potential downsides based on assessments decisions: Language minority learners may be misclassified as initially fluent English proficient (I-FEP) upon school entry, but he/she may lack the academic English needed for success in mainstream classrooms
Entry/exit criteria for ELL support focuses on reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills; not in academic skills or language related to content areas
The role of assessment in ELLs education
Towards effective identification of ELLs with language and/or learning disabilitiesSources of academic challenges in ELLs:Deficiencies in daily learning environmentLack of high quality instructionLack of differentiated instructionInstruction not addressing ELL needsPresence of disabilityDisability issues not addressed(Wilkinson, Ortiz, Robertson, & Kushner, 2006)
Decisions about support and programming must be based on data consistent across multiple sources of informationLEP tests are used for purposes beyond intended
Early identification of ELLs at-risk for reading difficultiesMany ELLs overlooked for early reading intervention due to their LEP
Measures of phonological processing ability are more strongly related to word reading ability than measures of oral language proficiency
ELLs in the primary grades struggling with early reading skills may benefit more from interventions for reading than from ESL
Early literacy screening batteries focus on print awareness, phonological awareness, and letter-word identificationOften lack a measure of vocabulary or oral language proficiencyLearners with low vocabulary knowledge must receive explicit instruction, especially in academic vocabulary
Language skills in ELLsLanguage is a matter of concern when we discuss instruction and intervention for ELLs due to its relationship to reading
Research leads to two conclusions regarding language skills in bilingual and monolingual childrenBoth groups have similar language skillsLanguage skills in bilingual children are distributed across both languages(Goldstein, 2006)
Language disability in ELLsDisabilities in ELLs: High incidence categoriesLearning disabilities with reading difficulties (56%)Speech/language impairment (24%)Mental retardation (8%)Emotional disturbance (2%)(U.S. Department of Education, 2003)
Acquiring a second or third language does not cause or exacerbate a language disorder; however, it makes the identification process more complicatedPoor understanding of language acquisition and language disorders in ELLs
Language disability in ELLsThemes in research that have clinical implicationsComplete comprehensive assessment in both languagesConsider the interaction between sociolinguistic variables and childs language skillsConsider providing intervention in both languages(Goldstein, 2006)
The role of native language assessmentIs the child struggling with the same reading-related skill in English and in the native language?
A comprehensive assessment in both languages provides a complete picture of abilities on each language
The majority of ELLs in U.S. classrooms today do not receive native language instruction or supportassessment should depend on the childs instructional opportunities
Professional DevelopmentELLs likely to miss appropriate instruction due to teachers lack of understanding of their unique needs12.5% of teachers who taught ELLs had received 8 or more hours of professional development (NCES, 2007)Fewer than 15 Special Education teacher programs include courses in bilingual special education
High Quality Teacher PreparationPrograms must provide theoretical knowledge and pedagogical methods on:Diversity within the ELL populationDirect instruction and modeling strategiesHow to connect reading opportunities to daily living activitiesHow to increase opportunities for reading, writing, and speaking across content areasEffective use of visuals and manipulativesWays to encourage language useHow to provide feedback and scaffoldingHow to use research-based effective instructional strategiesHow to guide students to make connections between native language and EnglishHow to administer and interpret the results of classroom-based assessment to inform instruction
Building Capacity to Effectively Teach ELLs ProjectsTitle III National Professional Development ProjectTo improve classroom instruction and assist personnel to achieve standards for certification and licensureExpediting Comprehension for English Language Learners (ExC-ELL) projectProfessional development model for middle and high school teachers of English, Science, Math, and Social StudiesIntegrates subject matter content, language, reading, and writing skills through the use of direct, explicit instruction
ReferencesGoldstein, B. A. (2006). Clinical implications of research on language development and disorders in bilingual children. Top Language Disorders, 26(4), pp. 305-321.National Center for Education Statistics (2007). National Assessment of Educational Progress/Nations Report Card. Washington, D.C.: Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved 1/25/2008 from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/nde/viewresults.aspU.S. Department of Education (2003). National symposium on learning disabilities in English language learners. Symposium Summary. Washington, DC.Wilkinson, C., Ortiz, A., Robertson, P., and Kushner, M. (2006). English Language Learners With Reading-Related LD: Linking Data From Multiple Sources to Make Eligibility Determinations. Journal of Learning Disabilities. 39(2), 129-142.
*The inherent relationship between language and knowledge represents a challenge in the development of suitable assessments of language ability and content-area knowledge in ELLs.*Yesterday we discussed the importance of assessment for ELLs and issues related to their evaluation and classification (I-FEP, LEP). Then, R-FEP.
The reading document includes a discussion on the role of assessment as it drives decisions about educational placements and support services for ELLs.
These decisions have implications for their academic outcomes, and are important when focused on identifyingand remediatingthe difficulties of ELLs who struggle.
Downsides:The classification criteria dont take into account the developmental and cumulative nature of language and literacy development: the criteria dont vary as a function of actual grade level expectations and standards, nor as a function of individual characteristics such as years of prior schooling, age of arrival, and native language literacy ability.
Entry and exit criteria for ELL support programs continue to be overly broad, focusing predominantly on ELLs reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills but not necessarily assessing academic skills and language as they relate to content area success. According to Wilkinson and colleagues, sources of academic challenges for ELLs that have implications for assessment and identification of language and/or learning disabilities are
CAN YOU THINK OF OTHER SOURCES OF ACADEMIC CHALLENGES?
Although proficiency tests have been, and will be, designed for the purposes of evaluating English proficiency, states and districts undoubtedly use these assessments for other purposes for which they are not designed.
A test designed strictly to identify whether a learner is above or below a classification cut-point is insensitive to fine distinctions such as those between beginning and early intermediate students.
The need for multiple sources of data to guide any educational programming applies especially to the case of effectively identifying ELLs with a language and/or learning disability. Multiple data sources help to prevent erroneous decisions and/or misclassifications as well as prevent oversimplification of what is a complex decision that must take into account child-level skills as well as environmental factors, such as the instructional context, opportunities-to-learn and prior access to support services. Educators and clinicians assume that that ELL reading skills will develop over time with increased oral proficiency.
Research with ELLs in the primary grades demonstrates that measures of phonological processing ability are more strongly related to word reading ability than are measures of oral language proficiency, such as vocabulary and grammatical sensitivity.
Sound-symbol correspondence and word recognition may benefit more from intervention services for struggling readers than from ESL instruction that emphasizes conversational proficiency.