Corpus Christi, Galena Park, and Fort Bend are among several Texas school districts participating in a study that will look at the impact of “collaborative strategic reading” on reading comprehension for both English-language learners and fluent English speakers. Collaborative strategic reading is a teaching approach that includes both cooperative-learning techniques and reading-comprehension strategies, according to a press release I received from the Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest at Edvance Research, a research laboratory of the U.S. Department of Education that is sponsoring the study.
In addition to Texas school districts, the Oklahoma City school district is taking part in the study.
The last in-depth article about reading and ELLs that I wrote for Education Week was about how many experts feel that Reading First, the federal flagship reading program under the No Child Left Behind Act, did not serve ELLs well overall. At the same time, I’ve visited a couple of school districts, including the Brownsville Independent School District in Texas, where I’ve met educators who said they were able to implement the program in a way that really helped ELLs.
The REL Southwest study will focus on 5th graders in schools with high numbers of ELLs.
The description of the research study doesn’t say if or how native-language instruction will play a role. Texas elementary schools are required to provide bilingual education if they have a critical mass of students who speak the same language.
I look forward to seeing if the findings of this study will shed more light on how to help ELLs get past the sounding out of words to understanding what the text means.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.