Strengthening practice and policy in state and local education systems will be an essential part of reducing inequality for young people in the coming years. And a fundamental piece of the effort to raise student outcomes will be building and testing approaches that states and districts can adopt to effectively meet the needs of English learners.
By moving accountability systems from the federal to the state level and highlighting the importance of English learner progress in accountability, ESSA provides an opportunity to develop state accountability systems that better support the learning of ELs. Assessments and data are critical pieces of these systems—future research focusing on these areas promise to yield a more nuanced picture of how ELs are doing and why, as well as what can be done to spur and sustain their academic progress.
At the William T. Grant Foundation, we have made it a priority to support research on reducing inequality among young people in the United States. A key area for progress is in the policies, programs and practices to reduce unequal opportunities and outcomes for English learners (ELs).
Systematically considering programs, practices, and policies that may move the needle in some of these important areas is the next frontier of research if we want to address inequality for this fast growing group of students.
We believe that qualitative and mixed-methods research is essential to building, understanding, testing, and improving responses to inequality—be they programs, policies, or practices.
Taken together, these studies produced deep insights that would not have been accessible through quantitative research alone.
Understanding the social processes that involve interactions between individuals, or between individuals and their contexts, is essential to responding to inequality.
We believe that qualitative and mixed-methods research is essential to building, understanding, testing, and improving responses to inequality.
I'd like to share advice with potential applicants about developing a letter of inquiry for our reducing inequality focus area.
After reviewing nearly 400 letters of inquiry, we share some thoughts about the research we want to support, along with recommendations for future applicants.