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Content Standards in Adult ESL Discussion May 21-25, 2007

Dear subscribers,

Please see the introductory message below from Kirsten Schaetzel and Sarah Young who will facilitate next week's discussion on implementing adult ESL content standards.

Lynda Terrill

Please join us for an upcoming discussion on implementing adult ESL
content standards from May 21-25. The discussion will be facilitated by
Kirsten Schaetzel and Sarah Young of the Center for Adult English
Language Acquisition (CAELA). Kirsten and Sarah will be joined by adult
ESL practitioners using standards in the field, including Dr. Lesley
Tomaszewski of the Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy and
Learning (TCALL) and Karen Gianninoto of the Maryland State Department
of Education.

Before beginning the discussion, we would like to provide some
background information about standards-based instruction based on two
recent CAELA briefs: Understanding Adult ESL Content Standards
(September 2006, and
Using Adult ESL Content Standards (March 2007,

Content standards are broadly defined as what learners should know and
be able to do in a certain subject or practical domain. They describe
the knowledge and skills that students will have upon successful
completion of an instructional program. Although standards are the
foundation for designing curricula, instruction, and assessment, they do
not stipulate the types of lesson plans, activities, or teaching
methodologies that should be used. Content standards, curriculum
frameworks, and resource guides that states have developed can provide
guidance to local programs and practitioners in developing effective
curriculum and instruction.

Standards-based education has been a part of K-12 instruction and
assessment for quite some time now, but it is a relatively new addition
to the adult basic education and adult ESL fields. There are many adult
ESL standards-based initiatives currently in development or in use, such
as the Adult Education Content Standards Warehouse  where sets of adult ESL
content standards from ten states, CASAS, and Equipped for the Future
(EFF) are available for download. The Adult Literacy Education (ALE)
Wiki Web site on Standards
provides a list of  existing and in-development adult education standards, curriculum
frameworks, and resource guides from over 20 states, as well as links to
standards from four other English-speaking countries. The
Standards-In-Action project, funded by the Office of Vocational and
Adult Education
, is working with six pilot states to develop
professional development and resources for implementing standards in
curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

As we prepare to begin our discussion on what adult ESL content
standards are and how they are used to improve instruction and learning,
please consider the following questions. We look forward to hearing your
responses and examining additional questions focused on implementing
standards in adult ESL.

How are English language acquisition and skills development approached
in content standards, and how does this differ from previous methods of
ESL instruction?

Many people on this list have children in standards-based K-12 programs
or who have taught in a K-12 setting. How do adult standards compare to
K-12 standards? What can we learn or apply from K-12 standards-based
education, in terms of research on instructional methods, activities,
and materials, assessment, and professional development?

What professional development and supplementary materials are needed to
facilitate adult ESL standards implementation?

How can we know if adult ESL standards-based instruction and assessment
are beneficial for students, teachers, and programs?

We will be posting some preliminary thoughts about these questions next
week, and look forward to hearing from practitioners and administrators
in the field who have experience with adult ESL content standards or who
are interested in learning more.


Sarah Young & Kirsten Schaetzel
Center for Adult English Language Acquisition