Language-Rich Approach Boosts English Learner Skills
Teachers at International High School in Austin, Texas, thought they were doing a great job. Visitors to the school for new immigrants often praised the faculty for working with such a diverse population of students, some of whom had no prior formal education.
Aída Walqui’s observation was different. The director of WestEd’s Quality Teaching for English Learners (QTEL) project told faculty members there was so much more they could do to engage students and accelerate their learning.
International’s teachers said they respected Walqui’s assessment because she also offered solutions. When Walqui and her WestEd colleagues suggested a detailed improvement plan that included lesson makeovers and classroom coaching, the International staff jumped on board.
International became part of a three-year pilot of the QTEL approach to schoolwide instructional improvement, which included two other Austin high schools, Lanier High School beginning in 2007-2008 and Reagan High School in 2009-2010.
Through the pilot, all three schools accelerated student achievement and improved teacher practice.
Austin’s success has important implications for districts across the country that are struggling to serve English language learner students, as well as low-income and minority students who do not speak standard English.
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