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Advance Classwork ELL

Apr 20, 2017 2017-04-20

Professional Growth

SPOTLIGHT! On Advanced Coursework

Current and former English language learners in high school are less likely to take advanced classes than their native English-speaking peers, a Regional Education Laboratory (REL) Northwest study finds. The researchers examined barriers that prevent these students from taking more college-preparatory coursework—finding that academic preparation accounts for much of the difference in participation and performance.

English learners face multiple obstacles to taking advanced courses. They divide their time between acquiring English proficiency and learning academic content, creating a challenge for them to keep pace with native English-speaking students. Even if English learners demonstrate academic readiness, their status as English learners may limit their access to accelerated and advanced courses through “tracking” policies and practices at their schools.

To address the issues, the REL researchers recommend:

  • Providing English language assistance in advanced classes for students who are otherwise qualified to take the courses. That support could include teaming bilingual teachers with advanced class teachers to deliver the lessons and provide support in more than one language.
  • Communicating clearly, perhaps in multiple languages, with families to explain what students must do to enroll in advanced courses, especially in schools with higher percentages of English learners.
  • Examining whether the types of advanced courses offered limit English learners’ ability to participate. Advanced classes in English language arts and social studies often require advanced academic English ability; courses in science, world languages, and fine and performing arts are less reliant on that.

Here’s a look at the report.

ELL/ESL Academic Achievement

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