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What Are We Doing to Middle School English Learners?: Findings and Recommendations for Change from a Study of California EL Programs (Narrative Summary)

By Aída Walqui, Nanette Koelsch, Leslie Hamburger, Donna Gaarder, Alex Insaurralde, Mary Schmida, Steven Weiss


Within the next decade, one in every four students in U.S. classrooms will be an English learner (EL). Furthermore, secondary students make up the fastest growing sector of the EL population. In middle school (and above), students who are English learners run out of time quickly. What are schools doing during the crucial middle school years to promote English learners’ accelerated access to academic language and grade-level, standards-based instruction? How will these students catch up and be able to compete in high school, in college, and on the job market?

This overview of a recent study by Quality Teaching for English Learners (QTEL) researchers at WestEd concludes that based on findings in California, where 30 percent of the nation’s English learners are educated, middle school EL programs are failing students and limiting their futures in profound ways.

The Narrative Summary provides an overview of study data from 13 school districts with the highest concentration of English learner students in the state, and 64 middle schools in those districts. Excerpts from case study observations in a subset of schools contextualize the highlighted recommendations for change.

In addition to the Narrative Summary, the full research report is also available.

Resource Details

Product Information

Product #: PD-10-02
Copyright: 2010
Format: Print
Pages: 20
Publisher: WestEd

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