Carving Out Extra Time for English-Language Learners

By Debra Viadero — December 16, 2015 2 min read

Cross-posted from the Learning the Language blog

By Corey Mitchell

A report from the National Center on Time and Learning explores how three U.S. schools are using expanded school days to provide extra support for English-language learners.

The report profiles two Massachusetts expanded-time schools--Hill Elementary in Revere and Guilmette Elementary in Lawrence--and Godsman Elementary in Denver, and examines the strategies educators used to boost the achievement of English-learners.

The study, Giving English- Language Learners the Time They Need to Succeed, identified four best practices that worked in the schools:

  • Extended literacy blocks, with upwards of 2.5 hours per day focused on skills needed for reading and writing.
  • Using data to pinpoint areas where individual students struggle, then subdividing those students into small groups where staff can help address the challenges.
  • Maintaining support and services for fluent-speaking English-learners who need to boost their academic English skills
  • Ensuring that teachers meet often to align lesson plans, and identify and address student needs.

“The benefits of having more instructional time during the day and across the year to build in many layers of learning and mastering English are undeniable,” Jennifer Davis, the National Center on Time and Learning’s co-founder and president said in statement. “With substantially more time than the conventional schedule, the schools we document are able to provide the kind of deep support that traditional schools find much more difficult to do.”

The Boston-based research group advocates for an extended school day and school year. All three of the high-poverty schools have extended the school day as part of statewide efforts to boost academic achievement.

Hill Elementary is a member of the Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time Initiative, which allows staff to develop a longer school day and calendar. Slightly more than 25 percent of the students there are ELLs.

Earlier this year, my colleague Denisa Superville wrote about the districtwide expanded learning time effort in the Lawrence schools.

Almost half the students at Guilmette are English-learners. In Denver, Godsman Elementary used their designation as a state “innovation school” to add a dual-language program and expanded the school day to 8 hours, up from 6.5.

The percentage of students who are English-learners at each school ranges from nearly 90 at Godsman to slightly more than 25 percent at Hill.

Read the full report here.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Time and Learning blog.

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