Interpretation and use of Research Evidence in Bilingual Education Policy and Practice

Why is research regarding programs for English language learners (ELLs) used by some people in some contexts, but not in others? Do the attributes of individual educators impact this process?

This study examines how educators in two Washington State school districts interpret and use research findings when deciding how to implement educational language policies and programs. Some research supports dual-language programs as equal or superior to English-only approaches in helping students acquire academic language and content area knowledge. While federal policy continues to favor English-only approaches, Washington State has avoided this trend and has adopted a dual-language program. Investigators will interview teachers and district leaders, conduct observations of classrooms and meetings, and review policy documents to learn how research findings are interpreted and used to make language policy decisions. Johnson will also consider how decision-makers’ educational background and knowledge of educational policies relate to their use of research. Johnson is a young researcher who has conducted qualitative work on how research evidence regarding ELLs is used to inform policy. This study will allow him further experience working within the district setting to understand how research evidence is used, ignored, or challenged on the ground.

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