Research Years 5 - 6: SIOP Professional Development Framework

Jana EchevarrĂ­a, Ph.D.
California State University, Long Beach

Cara Richards-Tutor, Ph.D.
California State University, Long Beach

Deborah J. Short, Ph.D.
Center for Applied Linguistics

Jennifer Himmel
Center for Applied Linguistics

Research Questions

  1. Can the SIOP Model be used as an overarching professional development framework for a school-wide intervention focused on integrating academic language and content?

  2. Do teachers who receive SIOP professional development and coaching have higher fidelity to the model than control teachers who did not receive SIOP professional development and coaching? Are there any differences by content area?

  3. Do the students of teachers who receive SIOP professional development and coaching perform better than students in control classroom on outcome variables?

Back to top

School-wide Intervention Planning

In preparation for the final 2-year study of the research center, the CREATE researchers worked together to design an intervention that could be implemented school-wide. We decided that the SIOP Model would be the unifying professional development framework because of its applicability across content areas and its established research base. By improving teaching with targeted professional development, CREATE researchers believed they could improve student performance. In addition, recognizing from earlier studies the importance of supporting teachers in implementing the interventions (SIOP instruction and subject-specific curriculum), we decided to train a team of highly qualified coaches, known as Instructional Support Specialists (ISS). The ISS team was led by researchers at the University of Texas, Austin.

Drawing from the findings of the individual CREATE studies in the earlier years, we refined the subject area interventions to infuse SIOP features. The SIOP Model lesson template became the structure for lesson planning, with appropriate adjustments for the content areas. We modified our SIOP professional development program to highlight promising practices from the other studies, such as teaching general academic and content-specific vocabulary words, using short video clips to build background, and grouping students strategically for structured pair work.

We CREATE researchers also decided to bring mathematics into the intervention plan so all the core content areas would be addressed: science, social studies, language arts, and math. However, because math was not part of the earlier studies, the math teachers would not use a curriculum intervention. Their intervention would be the SIOP professional development and coaching. In Year 6, to provide some additional support, we wrote a series of SIOP math lessons that would be models for their own planning and we created weekly SIOP math tips: practical activities the teachers could use in class with their grade-level math topics to promote oral interaction among students, build background and vocabulary, practice and apply concepts, and/or review information.

The professional development workshops were coordinated so that teachers received training in the SIOP Model before each school year started and had one quarter to begin implementation with coaching. Then the science, social studies, and language arts teachers participated in separate workshops by subject area on their specific curriculum intervention. In Year 6, an additional workshop for the math teachers was also held.

Back to top

Research Design

Eight middle schools participated in the school-wide intervention during the 2009-2010 school year (Year 5) and were randomly assigned to treatment or control conditions. Teachers in Grade 7 were selected as the research participants. The treatment teachers received SIOP professional development and the curriculum intervention specific to their subject area. The control teachers delivered their regular instruction without curriculum units or SIOP training. Implementation levels for both groups of teachers were measured with the SIOP protocol. Treatment teachers received feedback but the control teachers did not. Student performance was measured with standardized tests (Gates-McGinitie reading test) and curriculum-based assessments (in science, social studies and English language arts).

In the 2010-2011 school year (Year 6), three of the control middle schools from Year 5 became treatment sites. One additional middle school joined the study. Teachers from these four schools likewise received SIOP professional development and the curriculum intervention specific to their subject area. Grade 7 was again the research focus. The data from Year 5 for the former control schools (SIOP implementation level, student achievement) acted as pretest data. At the end of Year 6, posttest data were collected on these variables.

Prior to the start of each school year (Years 5 and 6), math, social studies, science, and English language arts teachers in the treatment condition participated in a 3-day workshop in the SIOP Model so that they had an understanding of the instructional needs of English learners as well as the overarching framework for the study. The first day included an overview of the SIOP Model followed by discussion on second language acquisition and the type of teaching that makes content comprehensible for English learners. The components of the SIOP Model were explored in sequence over the three days: we explained the component and its research background; we demonstrated exemplary instructional techniques related to the component, and participants analyzed a video clip that illustrated effective classroom implementation of the component. In order to show their emerging understanding of the eight components, the participants first practiced writing content and language objectives for a lesson in their content area and then wrote a SIOP lesson plan in preparation for the start of the school year.

After the summer training, support for implementing the SIOP Model was provided by instructional support specialists (ISS) who participated in the professional development sessions to deepen their knowledge of the SIOP Model. Later in the year they also joined the curriculum workshops and guided teachers with the curriculum interventions. The ISS team met regularly to discuss best practices for coaching teachers. They also developed reliability in using the SIOP protocol to measure lesson fidelity to the SIOP Model.

The ISS team then worked directly with the teachers, regularly observing instruction in their classrooms and providing feedback as requested by the teachers. In some cases, particularly with the math teachers, they also helped with lesson planning. In addition, the instructional support specialists completed logs to record their coaching interactions with the treatment teachers. In these logs, for example, they noted SIOP features the teachers worked on and suggestions they made to teachers for future lessons.

The control teachers in each study delivered regular instruction without curriculum units or SIOP training. Their instruction was observed for research purposes but they did not receive feedback.

Back to top

Data Results

The first research question, whether the SIOP Model could serve as an overarching professional development framework, was answered in the affirmative. SIOP features were embedded in the curriculum interventions and SIOP professional development was provided to all treatment teachers. This professional development successfully incorporated exemplary instructional practices derived from the individual intervention studies. The ISS team guided teachers with SIOP implementation coaching.

The second research question was explored with analyses of the observation data. Reports from the ISS team and their logs showed mixed interest among the teachers in implementing both the SIOP Model and the particular interventions. Some teachers were eager to take advantage of the coaching supports and moved toward higher fidelity in their lessons; others were not.

The third research question was addressed through initial data analyses. These analyses show that students in treatment conditions (SIOP + curriculum intervention) performed statistically significantly better on curriculum-based measures in science, social studies, and language arts.

Back to top

Math Resource

Download a sample SIOP Math Tip. pdf (526 KB)

Back to top


The SIOP Model is flexible enough to use with other instructional approaches yet specific enough to include features of instruction for English learners that have been shown to be effective for improving academic performance. Sustained, high quality professional development is critical if teachers are to implement interventions with fidelity. Providing workshops and lesson plans alone may not lead to high levels of implementation, so site-based coaching and job-embedded support is needed to sustain changes in teachers’ practice. But teacher interest was also critical to implementation. Those who wanted to participate in the professional development and coaching made progress in implementing effective instructional practices. For the most part, we found that topics that were repeatedly targeted during coaching sessions, such as writing and posting content and language objectives or incorporating activities for student-student interaction, led to more uptake by the teachers who were receptive to coaching.

What we have found is that when there is a high level of implementation of the features of the SIOP Model, all students in class improve academically. English speakers and English learners alike benefitted by the integration of academic language and content learning in lessons.


View information on the Impact of the SIOP Model on Middle School Science and Language Learning in years 1 - 4.

Back to Research Years 5 - 6.