The 1990s: Promoting Program and Student Success

As the education standards movement took hold nationally during the 1990s, CAL collaborated with other organizations to develop program standards and improve teacher effectiveness and student learning in the fields of foreign language education, PreK-12 ESL, and adult ESL literacy; carried out projects to promote educational excellence for culturally diverse student populations; and held a symposium in response to the National Education Goals.

Strengthening Foreign Language Education

The formation of the European Union, the expanding role of technology, and growing world markets increased the importance of proficiency in world languages in the U.S., in addition to English. CAL participated in related work, such as the following: 

  • Through the National K-12 Foreign Language Resource Center (NFLRC), CAL worked to improve the teaching and learning of foreign languages through research on second language learning, development of language proficiency tests, workshops for teachers on technology and testing, and development of instructional materials.
  • CAL conducted the second national survey of foreign language teaching in the United States, which showed an increase in the number of elementary and secondary school classes since the previous survey in the 1980s.
  • CAL developed training kits for raters of foreign language tests.

Developing Adult ESL Literacy

Increased national attention to enhancing English literacy for adults sparked new programs, such as these:

  • The National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education (NCLE), housed at CAL, published Approaches to Adult ESL Literacy Instruction and Biliteracy in the United States, a state-of-the art book about adult literacy instruction.
  • CAL developed a video series, Sharing What Works, which documents effective adult ESL and literacy programs in North America, for use in professional development.
  • CAL contributed to LifePrints, a textbook and curriculum series for teaching English as a second language to adults. These materials focus on real-life situations for adult newcomers to the United States. Cross-cultural issues and the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills are woven throughout the language lessons.
  • CAL implemented the adult component of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Program in Immigrant Education. It sought to define the state of the art in workplace, vocational, and English skills training for immigrant adults and to connect experienced practitioners in a network with access to information and technical assistance.

Promoting Educational Excellence for Culturally Diverse Students

The influx of immigrants and refugees into the United States during the 1980s had a dramatic impact on U.S. society, including education. In the 1990s, CAL identified the theme of cultural diversity and the need to prepare all individuals for a multicultural, multilingual world as the centerpiece of its mission.

  • CAL conducted a descriptive study of content-ESL instructional practices, making site visits to 20 schools from California to Massachusetts, gathering and analyzing information from teachers and school administrators, and publishing reports on the findings.
  • CAL completed a study of elementary school special education programs in Baltimore City Public Schools. Using data from an ethnographic study of selected classrooms, intervention strategies were developed for teachers and students to increase the achievement of African American students. All About Dialects, a curriculum unit for fourth and fifth grade students, was developed, and a Handbook on Language Differences and Speech and Language Pathology was published for speech/language pathologists.
  • With a grant from the Bell-South Foundation, CAL provided content and English-as-a- second-language training for teachers in the Florida Panhandle, where support for training teachers to work with this student population was lacking.
  • CAL’s Refugee Service Center produced Amharic, Serbo-Croatian, Somali, and Tigrinya language versions of orientation manuals for refugees passing through processing centers in Zagreb and Kenya. To assist educators and refugee resettlement service providers in the U.S., Refugee Fact Sheets on different refugee groups, including Bosnians and Somalis, were developed, describing the people, history, and culture of the country. 

Responding to the National Education Goals

After the National Education Goals were announced by President Bill Clinton and adopted by state governors to create fundamental changes in the nation’s schools, CAL convened a National Education Goals Symposium for policymakers, researchers, and educators to address language and culture issues that were neglected in the movement to raise educational standards outlined in the goals.