English learner (EL) students tend to fare worse on academic assessments than non-EL students, and this gap typically grows over time as upper grades introduce more challenging academic content and English-language demands. ELs may face even greater challenges with the advent of college and career-ready standards (CCR), which use more complex language than previous standards. Nearly all states have adopted these new academic standards and assessments in English Language Arts and Math. What’s more, the Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states develop English language proficiency standards and assessments that are aligned with these new standards. In this context, ELs must learn rigorous content while they are developing their English-language skills. Wolf and colleagues will analyze the types of language skills and tasks in the CCR standards, as well as related assessments and curriculum materials, and their relationship to EL academic achievement. The team will use the findings to develop: 1) a list of essential language skills that meet the standards requirements, 2) a tool to analyze and align language demands, and 3) lesson plan guidelines. Using a mixed-methods design, the team will focus on the fifth grade, when ELs need to prepare for the increased demands of secondary school. In Phase 1, the team will analyze each state’s standards and work with a group of researchers and teachers to develop both a linguistic rating tool and an alignment tool to identify specific language skills and demands in standards, assessments, and curriculum. In Phase 2, the team will use this coding scheme to analyze assessments, and in Phase 3, they will use EL students’ assessment outcomes to examine relationships between their ELA, Math and English language proficiency outcomes.
How can college and career-ready standards, curriculum, and assessments be aligned to improve educational outcomes for English learner students?