The Effect of Requiring Structured English Immersion Training for General Education Teachers on Student Achievement

Does a state policy requiring general education teachers to receive training in working with English learners improve academic achievement?

Since 2008, 24 states have responded to a federal law mandating that public schools address the language barriers facing English-learner students (EL) by requiring or recommending EL-specific professional development for core academic teachers. There is little evidence, however, regarding the effects of such policies on academic performance. This longitudinal study provides the first plausible causal estimate of the effect of requiring general education teachers to undergo EL training on academic outcomes of both EL and non-EL students. The Structured English Immersion (SEI) training is intended to develop teachers’ instructional strategies in making academic content more accessible to EL students and to scaffold students’ English language development. To examine the policy’s effect, Winters and colleagues will use longitudinal administrative student-level and teacher-level data from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on the universe of public-school students and teachers from 2007-08 through 2018-19. The team will use a difference-in-difference approach to evaluate whether the outcomes from students instructed by a particular teacher differ before and after the teacher obtains SEI endorsement. The study will focus EL students’ academic achievement, progress toward English proficiency, attendance, and behavior, as well as potential effects spill-over to the academic outcomes of non-ELs.