Reducing Inequalities for Immigrant, Multilingual Students in Secondary Schools

Do the International Academies, an approach designed to meet the academic needs of English Learners, improve their school performance and attainment?

Traditional secondary schools feature instructional, program design, and cultural elements that can undermine achievement among English learners (ELs). Internationals Network, in contrast, is a group of district-run public schools that are specifically designed to address the opportunity and achievement gaps between ELs and non-ELs. However, the International Schools’ whole-school approach is not always feasible in smaller districts and newer immigrant destinations with low EL enrollment. To address scalability, the Internationals Network developed the Internationals Academy, an intervention that includes the same components as the whole-school model but is implemented in a smaller learning community within a public secondary school. While Villavicencio and colleagues previously found that the whole-school intervention can improve the academic outcomes of English learners, the team will now examine the effectiveness of the scalable embedded learning community approach. This mixed-methods study includes a qualitative implementation study and a quantitative impact study. Methods for the implementation study include, for each site, semi-structured interviews with school leaders; semi-structured focus groups with teachers and students; collection and analysis of artifacts; observations of teacher team meetings; and teacher digital diaries of instructional planning. The impact study will use a propensity score matching approach to compare students in Internationals Academies to EL peers in host schools not enrolled in Academies. Findings from this study may inform schools and districts that serve English learners in newer immigrant destinations.

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