Promoting Educator Networks: Standards-Based Instruction for English Learners

The Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) is working in partnership on this project with the University of Oregon’s Global and Online Education Department (Global), the TESOL International Association (TESOL), and a team of Local Education Agencies. It is overseen by the evaluation expertise of SRI International (SRI). Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement’s Investing in Innovation fund (i3), this four-year project addresses the competition’s Absolute Priority of Improving Academic Outcomes for English Learners (ELs) under Subpart (a) Aligning and implementing the curriculum and instruction used in grades K-12 for language development and content courses.

The project customizes an online platform, ObaVerse, which was created by the University of Oregon, to enhance traditional approaches to professional development (PD) through facilitating teacher networks. The Education Connections website within ObaVerse houses the project’s core activities, with the goal of improving teachers’ standards-based, EL-relevant instruction.

Project core activities are interdependent and intersecting:

  • Professional Learning Communities, convened in discussion forums around content areas and grade levels, as well as topics of interest to teachers
  • Interactive Resource Repository with high-quality, practical resources for teachers
  • Subject Matter Expert Sessions (SMES), live events typically conducted virtually in a webinar format
  • Online Professional Development, courses conveying one graduate credit in addition to district PD credits toward recertification
  • Obaworld Implementation, wherein teachers could use a companion site to ObaVerse to design and conduct high-quality lessons for their students.

The project addresses four goals: (1) use teacher networks to expand traditional approaches to PD; (2) facilitate teachers’ implementation of standards-based, EL-relevant instruction; (3) improve ELs’ English language and literacy development, therefore enhancing access to rigorous core academic content; and (4) impact EL students’ ELP and standardized content scores as a result of teachers’ involvement in the project. Outcomes include a new, unique approach to PD; improved implementation of standards-based, EL-relevant instruction; increased English language and literacy proficiency among ELs in participating teachers’ classrooms; and, higher English and content test scores among ELs served by participating teachers.

Special Project Features include:

  • Innovative approach to PD leveraging teachers’ collaboration in networks
  • The ObaVerse platform allows for course management, streamlined social networking, and embedded video chatting
  • First large-scale project focusing on standards-based, EL-relevant instruction

CAL’s organizational partners include:

  • Division of Global and Online Education, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
  • TESOL International Association, Alexandria, VA
  • SRI International, Menlo Park, CA

CAL’s Local Educational Agency (LEA) partners include:

  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools, NC
  • Fresno Unified School District, CA
  • Harrisonburg City Public Schools, VA
  • Winchester City Public Schools, VA
  • Frederick County Public Schools, VA
  • Prince George’s County Public Schools, MD

Return to the Education Connections initiative project page.

About the Project

Funder: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement
January 2014 – December 2018