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Similar English Learner Students, Different Results: Why Do Some Schools Do Better?

By Kenji Hakuta, Edward Haettel, et al.


How elementary schools focus their time and energies, and what resources they have for doing it, can make a powerful difference in the academic achievement of English learners from low-income backgrounds, according to findings from this new research brief. Robert Linquanti, former Project Director for English Learner Evaluation and Accountability Support in WestEd’s Comprehensive School Assistance Program, advised the research team that authored this report.

This extended analysis was based upon extensive survey data from 4,700 K-5 classroom teachers (80% or more at each school) and all principals in 237 California elementary schools from 137 different school districts across the state. These schools were initially randomly selected from 550 schools in California’s 25-35% School Characteristics Index band. All schools from this band have high levels of student poverty and low parent education levels. For this analysis, the researchers further narrowed the original sample to eliminate any school that did not have enough English learners to have an English Learner Academic Performance Index (API) score.

The research team analyzed the school practices covered by the teacher and principal surveys to see which most highly correlated with California’s new school level English Learner API. In addition, the team analyzed the same practices against percent proficient on the California Standards Tests to see if the results were similar. Finally, the team ran an additional analysis to see if the results were similar for only schools in the sample with English learner student populations that were 80% or more Spanish speakers.

The results for all three analyses were essentially the same: There are four interrelated broad school practices–backed up by numerous examples of specific actionable practices—that most strongly differentiate the lower from the higher performing elementary schools with regard to English learner API. These four practices are the same, although in a slightly different order of significance, as the team had found in October 2005 for the schoolwide API.

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Product Information

Copyright: 2007
Format: PDF
Pages: 24
Publisher: EdSource, Inc.