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HomenewsResearchNew National Effort to Address Effective Literacy for Multilingual Learners

New National Effort to Address Effective Literacy for Multilingual Learners

Researchers, educators, teachers, administrators, school board members, and advocates with expertise in literacy and the education of English learner/emergent bilingual students have come together to form the National Committee for Effective Literacy (NCEL), with the aim of improving research, policies, and practices to ensure that English learner/emergent bilingual students leave school as proficient readers and writers in English (and preferably another language), who thrive and succeed at school and in their communities.

“For the almost 10 million U.S. school children who are enrolling in our schools with a home language other than English and learning English as a second language, appropriate, effective literacy education that addresses their needs as second language learners and as dual language learners is an urgent educational equity issue facing our nation.” said Dr. Laurie Olsen, founding member of NCEL. 

A white paper titled, Toward Comprehensive Effective Literacy Policy and Instruction for English Learner/Emergent Bilingual Students, authored by Kathy Escamilla, Ph.D., Laurie Olsen, Ph.D., and Jody Slavick, Ph.D., focuses on effective literacy instruction for English learners (ELs) and emergent bilingual students (EBs) by addressing what is missing from current national literacy initiatives and trends that focus narrowly on foundational skills such as phonics. NCEL’s goal with this publication is to make clear what the research and evidence about ELs and EB students is and to clarify and articulate what a true research-based approach to literacy education for these students needs to be. 

“On average, English learners perform below grade level in every subject tested for federal accountability, are twice as likely to drop out as their native English-speaking peers and are less likely to attend a four-year college. Ensuring these students are provided appropriate literacy instruction is a basic equity and civil rights issue” said Martha Hernández, executive director of Californians Together. 

To sign NCEL’s petition to support an asset based approach to literacy for English Learners/Emergent bilinguals visit here

To read or download NCEL’s publication, Effective Literacy Education for English Learners: Beyond Foundational Skills, visit

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