A study of six high schools with higher-than-average academic outcomes for English-language learners found that the schools share common design elements, including intentionally hiring immigrants and former ELLs, according to a Stanford University Graduate School of Education study.
Staff members at the schools often speak students’ home languages and have significant international traveling experience, which helps them “understand ELLs’ perspectives, communicate with them, and serve as role models for students,” the report found. In a recent Education Week story, we wrote about how more districts are searching abroad for bilingual educators.
ELL students “still face a significant achievement gap in relation to other students,” the report reads, in part. “These high schools can serve as ‘North Stars.’”
The featured schools, which have higher-than-average graduation and college-going rates for ELLs, are all in Boston and New York: Boston International High School and Newcomers Academy in Boston; the High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies in the Manhattan borough of New York; It Takes a Village Academy in Brooklyn; Manhattan Bridges High School; and Marble Hill School for International Studies and New World High School, which are both in the Bronx.
The 245-page report found that the schools frequently assess student language capacity from entry through graduation and adjust student instruction and course offerings based on the data.
The authors also cite frequent communication between staff members and families in their home languages and the availability of wraparound services such as health, housing, food security, and employment resources as tools that can help students achieve their fullest potential. A report released last May by the Center for American Progress also makes the case that communities looking to improve education for school-age English-language learners should also offer services to their parents.
The schools also have English-as-a-second-language instructors and content-area teachers team up to develop lesson plans, and focus on “building strong foundational language, literacy, and college readiness skills” during the first two years of high school, allowing students to enroll in more advanced college-preparatory courses later in high school.
The Carnegie Corporation of New York funded the Stanford report.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.