Advancement Project Closing the Opportunity Gap

Promising the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures – A National Report

By Vickie Ramos Harris, Associate Director of Education Policy, Education Equity

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released their Dual Language Learners (DLL) and English Learner (EL) consensus report yesterday, Promising the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures.

This national report examines the research on students learning English from early childhood through secondary, and includes an analysis of the research in areas such as language development and proficiency, promising and effective practices in programs and assessments, and preparation and ongoing development of our educators.

It is particularly exciting to see the analysis of promising practices in early care and education and the Pre K-12 lens of this report. With the overwhelming passage of Proposition 58: Language Education, Acquisition, and Readiness (LEARN) Initiative, it is particularly helpful to see how the report provides research evidence that confirms the importance of language development in the earliest years, the clarity about the critical role of a child’s first language in developing English proficiency, and the evidence that shows students in quality bilingual programs outperform students instructed only in English.

The report concludes with ten recommendations for policymakers and education leaders to promote the educational success of DLLs and ELs.  Among these recommendations include direction for federal, state and local leadership to provide guidance on:

  • Practices and strategies for engaging and serving DLLs and their families;
  • Supporting educators to understand the valid assessments methods and tools for DLLs/ELs;
  • Ensuring the PreK-12 workforce is adequately prepared to support DLLs/ELs.

California is home to the largest population of English Learners in the United States, with more than 1.4 million ELs enrolled in public schools –nearly a quarter of the state’s public school population– and 57% of children birth to age five live in a household where English is not the primary language. Therefore California plays an important role in advancing policy and practice for DLL/EL education for the country.

Advancement Project California just released a policy brief that provides an overview of what the research shows about the importance of early language development, the advantages if bilingualism, the importance of family engagement, language program models, key policies and recommendations for LAUSD and other district leadership to consider as they engage in the implementation of Proposition 58.  Advancement Project California is clear that education of DLLs and ELs as an important component of our education equity agenda and we will build on the findings of this national report in our policy work ahead.

View the full report and report highlights: Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures

View Advancement Project’s related policy brief recently developed for Los Angeles Unified School District: Preparing LAUSD Students for the Global Economy: Maximizing the Assets of Dual Language Learners in the Early Years.


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