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English Learners (EL)

The English Learners (EL) SCASS constitutes the only national, sustained forum among state education agencies, researchers and policy experts on issues of standards and assessment for English learners. The EL SCASS explores issues of policy implementation, particularly focusing on the college- and career-ready academic standards and the English proficiency standards of states, their respective assessment systems, and state policies that affect instruction, curriculum, professional supports and leadership for ELs.  State members of the SCASS, in collaboration with advisor Kenji Hakuta, determine specific issues of focus.

Current areas of focus include:

  1. Implementation of college and career ready standards:  coordinating implementation of the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards and their corresponding state English proficiency standards in statewide efforts to improve instruction for ELs; learning from and providing input to the assessment consortia for CCSS (SBAC and PARCC), as well as the assessment consortia for ELP assessments (WIDA and ELPA21) and for non-consortia member states.
  2. Federal policy and ESEA: understanding the current state of federal policy that underlies the reauthorization of ESEA, the ESEA flexibility waivers and implementation of the new standards and assessments in order to improve implementation and inform long-term planning;
  3. Federal policy and ESSA: understanding ESSA and its potential impact on ELs and immigrant students.  Current work includes examining issues such as entry and exit criteria, articulating a common definition of English learner and approaches for including English proficiency in state accountability systems.
  4. Special Education: understanding the relationships between RTI systems, instructional and intervention needs for ELs (including Long Term English Learners) and instructional staffing for proper implementation.  Current activity includes the development of a paper articulating a research agenda from the perspective of states.
  5. Teacher Quality and Preparation: exploring new strategies to improve teacher preparation, professional development and teacher evaluation systems. Current activity includes the development of guidelines to modify current observation frameworks of teaching to include instructional settings the include EL students.
  6. Early Childhood Education: identifying factors that impact early childhood education and the transition to Kindergarten, especially around issues of early childhood bilingualism, cultural diversity, assessment of program quality and the proper assessment of children's school readiness. We are exploring the development of a Massive Open Online Course aimed at professional development for early childhood education teachers serving dual language learners.
  7. Recently-Arrived English Learners (RAEL): examining issues pertaining to the Recently-Arrived EL (RAEL) population across states. Areas of focus include understanding who RAELs are, their needs, existing services for RAELs within individual states, as well as promising practices in meeting RAELs' linguistic, academic and social-emotional needs.  

Face-to-face meetings, held every four months, typically involve members in the following activities:

  • Presentations by state teams to share best practices around:
    • alignment of system-wide reforms to new standards and assessments
    • professional development
    • policy implementation and continuous improvement
  • Updates from PARCC, SBAC regarding efforts to include ELs, as well as other state collaborative efforts to develop next-generation ELP assessments aligned to the Common Core.
  • Federal Updates on key legislation and policy initiatives.
  • Cross-SCASS discussions with ELA, Math, Formative Assessment, Special Education and Early Childhood regarding ELs.

Briefings on up-to-date research and evaluation studies and policy developments. These issues are addressed on a continuous cycle by the SCASS, drawing upon the expertise of national experts and capturing the experience and expertise of SCASS members.  In addition to the professional learning of members, WebEx seminars are held between in-person meetings, and periodic policy implementation documents are issued to offer guidance to state practitioners.

Advisors: Kenji Hakuta

The EL SCASS is led by Kenji Hakuta, Stanford University, a national leader in research, policy and practice regarding ELs. 
ELL Members 12-2-14

Business Partners: AIR, Data Recognition Corporation, ETS, Measured Progress, NCEO, Questar, Tri-Lin, and WIDA

Contact:Joe Crawfordjoe.crawford@ccsso.org202-312-6436