English Language Learners

Examining Formative Assessment Practices for English Language Learners in Science Classrooms (Collaborative Research: Ruiz-Primo)

This is an exploratory study to identify critical aspects of effective science formative assessment (FA) practices for English Language Learners (ELLs), and the contextual factors influencing such practices. FA, in the context of the study, is viewed as a process contributing to the science learning of ELLs, as opposed to the administration of discrete sets of instruments to collect data from students. The study targets Spanish-speaking, elementary and middle school students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1118876
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Full Description: 

This is a two-year exploratory study to identify critical aspects of effective science formative assessment (FA) practices for English Language Learners (ELLs), and the contextual factors influencing such practices. Three institutions join efforts for this purpose: University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Colorado at Denver, and University of Washington. FA, in the context of the study, is viewed as a process contributing to the science learning of ELLs, as opposed to the administration of discrete sets of instruments to collect data from students. The study targets Spanish-speaking, elementary and middle school students. Findings from this study contribute to advance knowledge and understanding of FA as an inherent component of the science learning process in linguistically diverse classrooms, and to define a research agenda aimed at enhancing science teachers' ability to enact equitable and effective assessment practices for this student subpopulation.

Three research questions guide the work: (1) What FA practices are occurring in science classrooms that serve predominantly mainstream students and in those serving predominantly ELLs?; (2) How are teachers' FA practices for mainstream students different from or similar to those used with ELLs?; and (3) How do contextual factors and teachers' cultural and linguistic competencies influence FA practices? To address these questions, two conceptual frameworks are used--one for characterizing FA events; the other for examining FA events as a communication process. The study employs a mixed-methods research approach with emphasis on case studies. The sample size consists of three school districts in Colorado and Washington, 16 classrooms (8 elementary, 8 middle school), 16 teachers, and 96 ELLs. Classrooms are selected to represent a particular combination of four factors: (a) teacher ethnicity, (b) teacher formal academic preparation in teaching ELLs, (c) type of linguistic student background, and (d) grade level. Students are selected through a stratified random sample, identified by achievement level (i.e., low, medium, high), and linguistic background (i.e., mainstream, ELL). Data collection strategies to document the implementation of FA at the beginning, during, and at the end of a science unit include: (a) classroom observation protocols, (b) classroom video-recording, (c) video/artifact simulated recall, (d) assessment artifacts, (e) student interviews, (f) teacher questionnaires, (g) teacher interviews, (h) school principal interviews, and (i) school observations. Reliability and validity of most of the data-gathering instruments is determined through pilot studies. Data interpretation strategies include: (a) coding based on the two conceptual frameworks, (b) scoring rubrics to identify levels of effectiveness, and (c) narratives and profiles to describe FA patterns. Publications and the development of a website constitute the main dissemination strategies. A technical advisory board is responsible for formative and summative evaluation. Key evaluation questions are: (1) To what extent does the project enhance research on ELL FA practices through case studies?, and (2) How effectively do the project dissemination activities facilitate understanding of FA practices?

Major project outcomes include: (1) a description of the patterns of formal and informal FA practices for ELLs; (2) a comparison of the FA practices observed in classrooms that vary on the dimensions of teacher characteristics and linguistic diversity; and (3) an empirically and theoretically informed set of findings and strategies for supporting teachers to enact and enhance FA practices sensitive to cultural and linguistic diversity. Three main products are developed: (1) a monograph describing the FA practices observed across the different classrooms with concrete examples; (2) a description of possible professional development strategies to improve in-service FA practices for linguistically diverse students; and (3) a research-informed approach for analyzing FA practices. Besides filling the existing research gap on FA with ELLs, outcomes and products serve as a foundation for a future research agenda and a comprehensive project aimed at ensuring equitable science learning for all students, including ELLs.

Continuous Learning and Automated Scoring in Science (CLASS)

This five-year project investigates how to provide continuous assessment and feedback to guide students' understanding during science inquiry-learning experiences, as well as detailed guidance to teachers and administrators through a technology-enhanced system. The assessment system integrates validated automated scorings for students' written responses to open-ended assessment items into the "Web-based Inquiry Science Environment" (WISE) program.

Award Number: 
1119670
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2011 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

This five-year project investigates how to provide continuous assessment and feedback to guide students' understanding during science inquiry-learning experiences, as well as detailed guidance to teachers and administrators through a technology-enhanced system. The assessment system integrates validated automated scorings for students' written responses to open-ended assessment items (i.e., short essays, science narratives, concept mapping, graphing problems, and virtual experiments) into the "Web-based Inquiry Science Environment" (WISE) program. WISE is an online science-inquiry curricula that supports deep understanding through visualization of processes not directly observable, virtual experiments, graphing results, collaboration, and response to prompts for explanations. In partnership with Educational Testing Services (ETS), project goals are: (1) to develop five automated inquiry assessment activities that capture students' abilities to integrate their ideas and form coherent scientific arguments; (2) to customize WISE by incorporating automated scores; (3) to investigate how students' systematic feedback based on these scores improve their learning outcomes; and (4) to design professional development resources to help teachers use scores to improve classroom instruction, and administrators to make better informed decisions about teacher professional development and inquiry instruction. The project targets general science (life, physical, and earth) in three northern California school districts, five middle schools serving over 4,000 6th-8th grade students with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and 29 science teachers. It contributes to increase opportunities for students to improve their science achievement, and for teachers and administrators to make efficient, evidence-based decisions about high-quality teaching and learning.

A key research question guides this effort: How automated scoring of inquiry assessments can increase success for diverse students, improve teachers' instructional practices, and inform administrators' decisions about professional development, inquiry instruction, and assessment? To develop science inquiry assessment activities, scoring written responses include semantic, syntax, and structure of meaning analyses, as well as calibration of human-scored items with a computer-scoring system through the c-rater--an ETS-developed cyber learning technology. Validity studies are conducted to compare automated scores with human-scored items, teacher, district, and state scores, including sensitivity to the diverse student population. To customize the WISE curriculum, the project modifies 12 existing units and develops nine new modules. To design adaptive feedback to students, comparative studies explore options for adaptive guidance and test alternatives based on automated scores employing linear models to compare student performance across randomly assigned guidance conditions; controlling for covariates, such as prior science scores, gender, and language; and grouping comparison studies. To design teacher professional development, synthesis reports on auto-scored data are created to enable them to use evidence to guide curricular decisions, and comments' analysis to improve feedback quality. Workshops, classroom observations, and interviews are conducted to measure longitudinal teachers' change over time. To empower administrators' decision making, special data reports, using-evidence activities, individual interviews, and observation of administrators' meetings are conducted. An advisory board charged with project evaluation addresses both formative and summative aspects.

A research-informed model to improve science teaching and learning at the middle school level through cyber-enabled assessment is the main outcome of this effort. A total of 21 new, one- to three-week duration standards-based science units, each with four or more automatically scored items, serve as prototypes to improve students' performance, teachers' instructional approaches, and administrators' school policies and practices.

CAREER: Mathematics Instruction for English Language Learners (MI-ELL)

This study is investigating the classroom factors and teacher characteristics that contribute to Latino English Language Learners' (ELL) gains in mathematics learning in the eighth grade. In addition to looking for key characteristics that influence mathematics learning, the researchers are measuring teachers' knowledge of mathematics for teaching, quality of instruction, and knowledge about English learners.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1055067
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/15/2011 to Sat, 06/30/2018
Full Description: 

This study is investigating the classroom factors and teacher characteristics that contribute to Latino English Language Learners' (ELL) gains in mathematics learning in the eighth grade. Researchers are collaborating with two school districts in Texas to investigate teaching practices. The project includes professional development that incorporates successful strategies found from their investigations. In addition to looking for key characteristics that influence mathematics learning, the researchers are measuring teachers' knowledge of mathematics for teaching, quality of instruction, and knowledge about English learners.

The research design of the five-year study is a two-level cluster design in which students are nested within teachers. The goal is to predict English Language Learners' gains in mathematics achievement on standardized tests from the resources used by teachers. Measures of teacher knowledge include the Learning Mathematics for Teaching instrument, TExES Bilingual Education Supplemental 4-8 Representative Exam, and the Quality of Mathematics Instruction instrument. Variables and their interactions are analyzed to understand their relationship with student achievement. The evaluation plan involves both formative and summative components related to conducting the research and offering the associated professional development. The educational plan includes implementing a Mathematics Bilingual Institute that offers practicing teachers a professional development focused on successful classroom practices.

This project has the potential to help educators throughout the United States understand the best practices that promote mathematical learning for Latino ELL students. It can help us understand teacher characteristics that contribute to student learning and ways to help teachers develop those characteristics.

School Organization and Science Achievement: Organization and Leadership Influences on Equitable Student Performance (Collaborative Research: Settlage)

This project will document factors explaining variations in science achievement across schools enrolling ethnically and linguistically diverse students. The research question is: what leadership and organizational features at the school level are associated with mitigating science achievement gaps? At the conclusion of the five-year project, the findings will take the form of recommendations about leadership practices and school organization that can be implemented in other school settings.

Award Number: 
1119349
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/01/2011 to Sun, 06/30/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Katherine Paget, Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)
Full Description: 

The School Organization and Science Achievement (SOSA) Project will document factors explaining variations in science achievement across schools enrolling ethnically and linguistically diverse students. The research question is: what leadership and organizational features at the school level are associated with mitigating science achievement gaps? Previous school effectiveness studies demonstrate school leadership and social capital influencing student achievement; the SOSA project is unique with its focus on science achievement. Researchers at the University of Connecticut and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, in collaboration with school districts in their respective states, will identify school leadership practices that can be connected with reductions in achievement gaps related to student ethnicity, English fluency, and social status. At the conclusion of the five-year project, the findings will take the form of recommendations about leadership practices and school organization that can be implemented in other school settings.

The project uses a mixed methods design by combining statistical modeling and qualitative data. Multiple regression analyses highlight those schools populated by fifth graders that have greater or lesser achievement gaps in science. Using social capital theory (i.e., school norms, communication channels, and trustworthiness) comparisons of positive and negative outlier schools will be made via interviews of building principals, classroom teachers and community representatives. The expectation is that schools providing more equitable science experiences to all students will exhibit stronger social capital compared to buildings with disparities in science test scores across demographic categories. These insights will be supplemented by multilevel structural equation modeling to determine the strength of association between various school climate measures (e.g., teacher-to-principal trust, correspondence between teacher and principal perceptions of leadership, and school/community ties) and science achievement as measured by statewide fifth grade science tests. In addition, growth analyses will be used to detect shifts over time and provide insights about the links between policy changes or leadership adjustments, inasmuch as science achievement gaps are affected.

By working with 150 schools in two states, this collaborative research project is designed to generate findings applicable in other school systems. Particularly in settings where science achievement gaps are large, and especially when such gaps vary between schools even when the student populations are similar, the findings from this study will have practical leadership implications. Expertise in this project includes science education, educational leadership, and statistical modeling. This complementary combination increases the depth of the project's efforts along with expanding its potential impacts. Key questions addressed by this project include: to what extent is leadership in science similar to or different from leadership in other subject areas? how do variations in leadership design (e.g., top-down versus distributed leadership) contribute to reductions in science achievement gaps? to what degree can effective leadership mitigate other factors that exacerbate the challenges of providing high quality science learning experiences for every child? Findings will be disseminated via the SOSA Project website, along with leadership development strategies. Deliverables include templates to replicate the study, case studies for professional development, and strategies for supporting the development of science teacher-leaders.

Implementing the Mathematical Practice Standards: Enhancing Teachers' Ability to Support the Common Core State Standards

This is a four-year project that is producing materials designed to help teachers see how the mathematical practices described in the Common Core State Standards for mathematics can be implemented in mathematics instruction. The goal of the improved instruction is to help students adopt and value these critical mathematical practices.

Award Number: 
1119163
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/01/2011 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Implementing Mathematical Practices Standards (IMPS) is a four-year project that is producing materials designed to help teachers see how the mathematical practices described in the Common Core State Standards for mathematics can be implemented in mathematics instruction. The goal of the improved instruction is to help students adopt and value these critical mathematical practices. Researchers at the Education Development Center are developing videos and print materials that exemplify the mathematical practices and are working with teachers in grades 5-10 to help them use the materials effectively. The research questions of the project are focused on what features of the materials are most helpful to teachers and what professional development characteristics facilitate implementation of the mathematics practices in classroom instruction. The external evaluation of the project is being conducted by evaluators at TERC who are looking the process of developing materials and how the materials are used.

The materials will include professionally-produced videos exemplifying a particular mathematical practice being implemented in a classroom as well as printed dialogues that are designed to help teachers understand the practice and why it is critical for students to acquire that mathematical practice. The exemplars of mathematical practices are being developed based on pilot work and systematic advice from mathematicians, mathematics educators and mathematics teachers in grades 5-10. The design process is iterative and materials are refined based on feedback that is received. Facilitators are being prepared to conduct professional development and materials are being tested by more than 150 teachers in a variety of school districts.

Professional groups such as NCTM and NCSM have called for materials that exemplify the CCSS mathematical practices. They have argued that teachers need to understand how these standards can be achieved in classrooms. IMPS systematic effort to design materials that exemplify the standards and to test not only the materials but also the professional development associated with the materials is responding to the national need. The videos and dialogues will be available through broad dissemination.

Investigating and Supporting the Development of Ambitious and Equitable Mathematics Instruction at Scale

This project is supporting and investigating the implementation of reformed mathematics instruction at the middle school level in two large school districts. The primary goal of the project is to develop an empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform at school and district levels. The researchers are investigating reform within a coherent system that focuses on leadership and school-based professional development.

 

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1119122
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Development of Ambitious and Equitable Mathematics Instruction project is supporting and investigating the implementation of reformed mathematics instruction at the middle school level in two large school districts. Project researchers are asking: What does it take to support mathematics teachers' development of ambitious and equitable instructional practices on a large scale? The project has built on what was learned in a previous, successful project studying the implementation of a middle school mathematics curriculum. The primary goal of the new project is to develop an empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform at school and district levels. The researchers are investigating reform within a coherent system that focuses on leadership and school-based professional development. In addition, they are facilitating a longitudinal study of the curriculum implementation by continuing the data collection from the original study.

In order to build a theory of action, the project team is synthesizing data from a variety of domains including instructional systems (e.g., curriculum, materials, professional development, support for struggling students, and learning communities), mathematics coaching, networks of teachers, school leadership, and district leadership. Investigators are using a variety of analytic techniques to successfully integrate both quantitative and qualitative data as they seek to understand how school district strategies are playing out in schools and classrooms and how those strategies can be revised in order to improve student learning of mathematics.

An empirically grounded theory of action for implementing reform will help the mathematics education community to implement and to understand the process of reforming mathematics instruction at the middle school level. Many advances in mathematics instruction have been documented within a limited context, but researchers and practitioners need to understand the full range of action necessary to achieve similar successes at a district-wide level. The model developed from this project, in conjunction with longitudinal data, has the potential to guide future reform efforts that seek to provide ambitious and equitable mathematics instruction.

Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos (CEMELA)

The goal of the Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as is to advance the field of mathematics education by:

(A) Developing an integrated model that connects mathematics teaching and learning to the cultural, social, and linguistic contexts of Latino/as students and (B) Increasing the number of mathematics educators and teachers with this integrated knowledge to ultimately improve the mathematics education of Latinos/as, particularly those of low-income backgrounds.

Award Number: 
1219798
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/01/2004 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as (CEMELA) addresses the mathematics education needs of the largest and most rapidly growing minority group in the country, a diverse group that has one of the most disturbing patterns of academic achievement. Given the unique language, social and cultural factors associated with working-class/low-income Latino/as students and communities, a multidisciplinary approach is necessary to address their education. Although there are well-established scholars who focus on the education of Latinos, their research is in the areas of policy, language and culture, not primarily in mathematics education. Few mathematics education scholars have multidisciplinary expertise in the particular areas relevant to the learning of mathematics by Latinos/as.

The goal of the Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as is to advance the field of mathematics education by:

(A) Developing an integrated model that connects mathematics teaching and learning to the cultural, social, and linguistic contexts of Latino/as students and

(B) Increasing the number of mathematics educators and teachers with this integrated knowledge to ultimately improve the mathematics education of Latinos/as, particularly those of low-income backgrounds.

This goal will be achieved by the collaboration of experts in mathematics education, mathematics and language and culture in education. CEMELA brings together in Arizona, The University of Arizona, Sunnyside Unified School District and Tucson Unified School District; in Illinois, The University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago Public Schools; in California, The University of California at Santa Cruz, North Monterey County School District and Pajaro Unified School District; and in New Mexico, The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque Public Schools, Socorro Consolidated Schools, and The Bernalillo Public Schools. Intentionally, the Center represents diverse geographical contexts -- borderlands (UA), urban (UIC), rural (agricultural/migrant) (UCSC) and rural/urban (UNM) -- to adequately capture the corresponding diversity of educational and cultural experiences among Latinos/as.

Signing High School Science

This project integrates American Sign Language (ASL) into the life and physical sciences content of 9th-12th grade deaf or hard-of-hearing students. Project partners incorporate the use of the assistive technology in order to develop, research, and disseminate two interactive 3D dictionaries: Signing Life Science Dictionary (SLSD), and Signing Physical Science Dictionary (SPSD) with audio modes and approximately 750 standards-based terms in English and Spanish text that can be signed or listened to on demand.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1019542
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Full Description: 

With this project, TERC and Vcom3D are using the SigningAvatar® assistive technology to research, develop, and disseminate two illustrated interactive 3D dictionaries. Each dictionary will have an audio mode and will include at least 750 standards-based terms in English and Spanish text that can be signed or listened to on demand. One dictionary will be a Signing Life Science Dictionary (SLSD); one will be a Signing Physical Science Dictionary (SPSD). To begin to establish effectiveness, the partners will investigate two research questions: 1) What kinds of learning gains in life science are possible with use of the SLSD? 2) What kinds of learning gains in physical science are possible with use of the SPSD? Extrapolating from the findings from their Signing Science Dictionary (SSD), the partners’ hypotheses are that with the SLSD and SPSD, students will have assistive tools that help them 1) increase their ability to sign, understand, and use the languages of life and physical science; 2) improve their science content knowledge; 3) increase their ability to study each content area independently. An external evaluator will conduct a formative and summative project evaluation. Dissemination at the end of the 48-month project, together with a Signing Earth Science Dictionary (SESD) under development, will offer students who are deaf or hard of hearing increased access to the same learning opportunities in science that hearing students enjoy—opportunities that they can build on beyond high school and that may lead to careers in STEM. Additionally, new terms in English and Spanish will be added to Vcom3D’s sign lexicon and will be available for development of signed science materials.

Interactive Science and Technology Instruction for English Learners (RAPID)

This project examines the first-year implementation of a program that will provide low-cost netbook computers and specialized software to fifth and sixth grade students in four schools in Southern California. The PIs collect baseline and early implementation data to determine effects of the intervention on students' academic achievement in science, academic writing in science, and interest in further STEM study.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1053767
Funding Period: 
Fri, 10/01/2010 to Fri, 09/30/2011
Full Description: 

This is a RAPID award to investigators at the University of California, Irvine, to examine the first-year implementation of a program that will provide low-cost netbook computers and specialized software to fifth and sixth grade students in four schools in Southern California. The PIs collect baseline and early implementation data to determine effects if the intervention on students' academic achievement in science, academic writing in science, and interest in further STEM study. They also examine the extent to which participation in the program improves student access to, use of, and self-perceived proficiency with technology and how these attributes are mediated by socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and English learner status. Additionally, they examine the effect of the program on teachers' knowledge of and use of technology for instruction.

Four schools from the same school district with similar demographics serve as comparison schools in the study. Additionally, all fifth and sixth grade teachers participate in the study with four program teachers (two at fifth grade and two at sixth grade) participating more extensively as focus teachers. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are used to examine the effects of the program. 

The products include analysis of extensive data on implementation, learning and attitudes. A total of 531 students are involved in the study as well as their teachers. The findings are likely to guide subsequent implementation and research on full implementation within the targeted schools.

Supports for Science and Mathematics Learning in Pre-Kindergarten Dual Language Learners: Designing a Professional Development System

SciMath-DLL is an innovative preschool professional development (PD) model that integrates supports for DLLs with high quality science and mathematics instructional offerings. It engages teachers with workshops, classroom-based coaching, and professional learning communities.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1726082
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/15/2010 to Sat, 06/30/2018
Project Evaluator: 
Open Minds LLC
Full Description: 

The 4-year project, Supports for Science and Mathematics Learning in Pre-Kindergarten Dual Language Learners: Designing and Expanding a Professional Development System (SciMath-DLL), will address a number of educational challenges. Global society requires citizens and a workforce that are literate in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), but many U.S. students remain ill prepared in these areas. At the same time, the children who fill U.S. classrooms increasingly speak a non-English home language, with the highest concentration in the early grades. Many young children are also at risk for lack of school readiness in language, literacy, mathematics, and science due to family background factors. Educational efforts to offset early risk factors can be successful, with clear links between high quality early learning experiences and later academic outcomes. SciMath-DLL will help teachers provide effective mathematics and science learning experiences for their students. Early educational support is critical to assure that all students, regardless of socioeconomic or linguistic background, learn the STEM content required to become science and mathematics literate. Converging lines of research suggest that participation in sustained mathematics and science learning activities could enhance the school readiness of preschool dual language learners. Positive effects of combining science inquiry with supports for English-language learning have been identified for older students. For preschoolers, sustained science and math learning opportunities enhance language and pre-literacy skills for children learning one language. Mathematics skills and science knowledge also predict later mathematics, science, and reading achievement. What has not been studied is the extent to which rich science and mathematics experiences in preschool lead to better mathematics and science readiness and improved language skills for preschool DLLs. Because the preschool teaching force is not prepared to support STEM learning or to provide effective supports for DLLs, professional development to improve knowledge and practice in these areas is required before children's learning outcomes can be improved.

SciMath-DLL is an innovative preschool professional development (PD) model that integrates supports for DLLs with high quality science and mathematics instructional offerings. It engages teachers with workshops, classroom-based coaching, and professional learning communities. Development and research activities incorporate cycles of design-expert review-enactment- analysis-redesign; collaboration between researcher-educator teams at all project stages; use of multiple kinds of data and data sources to establish claims; and more traditional, experimental methodologies. Based on initial evidence of promise, the SciMath-DLL project will expand PD offerings to include web-based materials, making the PD more flexible for use in a range of educational settings and training circumstances. An efficacy study will be completed to examine the potential of the SciMath-DLL resources, model, and tools to generate positive effects on teacher attitudes, knowledge, and practice for early mathematics and science and on children's readiness in these domains in settings that serve children learning two languages. By creating a suite of tools that can be used under differing educational circumstances to improve professional knowledge, skill, and practice around STEM, the project increases the number of teachers who are prepared to support children as STEM learners and, thus, the number of children who can be supported as STEM learners.

This project was previously funded under award #1019576.

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