Resources: Putting Standards into Practice

By Mary Ann Zehr — February 25, 2009 1 min read
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The federal government isn’t the only entity trying to support educators in implementing instruction for English-language learners that is aligned with English-proficiency standards. Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc., or TESOL, has joined the effort as well by releasing a book, Paper to Practice: Using the TESOL English Language Proficiency Standards in the PreK-12 Classrooms.

In fact, states have developed their own English-proficiency standards, many of which don’t look exactly like the TESOL standards. But I presume both officials in the federal government and members of TESOL figure the same general principles for implementation apply to whatever set of English-proficiency standards a state uses, or they wouldn’t have bothered to publish national guides on the subject.

Nineteen states have adopted the same English-language-proficiency standards in that they are members of the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment consortium, and as members they use the same standards and assessment, Access for ELLs.

Virginia, which is a member of WIDA, has developed its own resources to help educators to use those standards in the classrooms. The state has produced a set of videos in which teachers talk about lessons they’ve taught to convey specific standards. I was a little disappointed to find the videos don’t capture actual classroom scenes, but they still present lots of practical ideas.

It seems that people in the field pretty much accept standards-based instruction for ELLs as an improvement over the ad hoc approach of not too many years ago, when many school districts didn’t have a curriculum for ELLs and teachers selected their own materials and decided what skills to stress.

Is there anyone out there who feels that it’s a mistake for the field to move in this standards-based direction?

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