Ten years after their groundbreaking publication Reparable Harm called attention to California’s long-term English learners (LTELs), Californians Together has released Renewing Our Promise, a research and policy report by Manuel Buenrostro and Julie Maxwell-Jolly, PhD, that focuses on supporting LTELs.
This report is a call to action to use the information and policy gains of the last decade to accelerate improvement for these students. In particular, the English Learner Roadmap offers key guidance to school districts for improving outcomes for EL students—including LTELs and those at risk of becoming LTELs. The 80-page report makes recommendations to improve outcomes for EL and LTEL students in significant and long-term ways, including the following:
- Educator Preparation and Professional Learning. Stronger educator preparation and ongoing professional learning for all educators to understand and work effectively with EL and LTEL students across the curriculum, including time for collaboration. This is aligned with principle three of the EL Roadmap focused on “system conditions that support effectiveness,” including capacity building for leaders and teachers.
- Resources and Planning. Focused resource allocation, goal setting, and planning that address the specific needs of ELs and LTELs. This is aligned with principle three of the EL Roadmap focused on “system conditions that support effectiveness,” including investing adequate resources, and principle four focused on “alignment and articulation within and across systems.”
- Curriculum and Instruction. Education programs that provide all ELs and LTELs the supports they need without segregating them into tracks are based on curriculum and instruction that is accessible, engaging, culturally relevant, and rigorous and attend to the socioemotional well-
- being of students along with their language and academic needs. This is aligned with principle two of the EL Roadmap focused on “intellectual quality of instruction and meaningful access.”
- Data, Assessment, and Accountability. Data on LTELs and students at risk of becoming LTELs that are accessible, included in the accountability system, and useful for a variety of purposes. The data are used for planning effective instruction, designing professional learning, monitoring student progress, and communicating with students and their families about successes and needs. Another effect of using data and assessments is to hold the system accountable for meeting the needs of ELs and LTELs, including schools, districts, and the state. This is aligned with principle three of the EL Roadmap focused on “system conditions that support effectiveness,” including assessment, and principle four focused on “alignment and articulation within and across systems.”
- Engagement, Relationships, and Student Focus. Frequent communication and meaningful engagement (centered on listening and learning) with students, their families, and communities to create relationships of trust. This is aligned with principle one of the EL Roadmap focused on “assets-oriented and needs-responsive schools.”
The report concludes, “It is time to be bold and recommit to improving outcomes for ELs and LTELs. The pandemic has shed a glaring light on the gaps in student opportunity that have existed for years—and the influx of state and federal funds creates an opening for us to address these gaps. Now is not the time for complacency but for using these policy gains and new resources to redouble our efforts and accelerate progress so that the seeds of progress sown over the past decade bear fruit in the next.”