As a partner in the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia, CAL conducts research on districts serving emerging English learner communities, that is, districts serving new, rapidly expanding enrollments of English learner students, in the four states served by the REL: Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Two reports prepared under the REL and published by IES for dissemination address the capacity-building challenges that school districts and schools confront when they first receive English language learners. In Preparing to serve English language learners: school districts with emerging English language learner communities, CAL researchers examined state and district enrollment data for the 1998/99 through 2004/05 school years, and asked how districts built their capacity to serve English learner students. In a limited set of interviews with district and school staff, the researchers found that districts and schools generally moved through four phases of services: ad hoc services, consistent services, a developed program of services, and an expanded and integrated program of services. Drawing on their research and on accounts of experiences shared with them during the interviews, CAL researchers recommended that schools prepare in advance to serve English learners by identifying leaders to spearhead program development, conducting needs assessments in their district, and identifying staffing and programmatic resources that can help create the infrastructure needed to serve English learner students. The second, related study addressed issues in registering English learner students when their names are not easily adapted to the district registration system and databases. The study, Registering Students From Language Backgrounds Other Than English, describes naming conventions for the eight most common languages in the region and offers recommendations to help schools accommodate cultural differences and promote consistency in students’ names in the student information systems.
Based on state requests, CAL staff provided updated analyses of enrollment data in the region in an IES Technical Brief report: Descriptive Analyses of English Language Learner Student Enrollment Data in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia (March 2012).
CAL collaborated with the REL Northwest to disseminate the work on Registering students from language backgrounds other than English to district and school staff in the REL NW region.
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