A Focused Look at Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants that Have Percentages of English Language Learner Students

This National Center for Education Evaluation (NCEE) brief focuses on 11 case study schools that that received federal funds through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program from 2010-11 to 2012-13. These schools had a high proportion of English Language Learner Students (ELLs). Three key findings from the ELL case study from data collected in 2011 emerged: (1) schools’ approaches to improvement appeared to include only moderate or limited attention to the unique needs of ELLs; (2) teachers and district and school administrators had mixed perceptions of teachers’ capacity, expertise, and skills in meeting the unique needs of ELLs; and (3) schools that provided stronger attention to the needs of ELLs were more likely to have staff dedicated to ELL needs.

Content Comments 

This is a very well-written brief of a case study of the 35 schools receiving federal funds through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program, focusing in particular on 11 of these SIG schools with high proportions of English Language Learner (ELL) students (a median of 45 percent ELLs). Of note, although all 11 schools reported providing specialized supports for ELL students, the schools’ approaches to improvement during the initial phase of SIG appeared to include only moderate or limited attention to the unique needs of ELLs. The staff that seemed to pay the most attention to ELL needs were staff specifically hired to address the needs of these students.