Thursday, July 14, 2016

ESL Support Pillars

To what extent are we positioning ESL (English as a Second Language) students to become college and career ready? According to the Alliance for Effective Schools, “About 63 percent of the 46.8 million job openings created by 2018 will require workers with at least some college education....”

Traditional approaches to pedagogy often leave the ESL student population underserved in preparation of post-secondary pursuits. Why? ESL programs sometimes focus more on language acquisition at the expense of providing rigorous and challenging learning experiences. The result is clearly seen in achievement gaps across the country. English Language Learner (ELL) sub-group populations frequently score lower than non-ELL populations in English language-intensive subjects such as reading, writing, and science, and to a lesser extent in math where language has less impact on test item computation.

The solution? Providing greater development and support for targeted areas impacting ESL teaching and learning. We use the term, ESL Support Pillars, to represent three key areas: Student Achievement, Student H.E.A.T. (Higher order thinking, Engaged learning, Authentic connections, Technology use) and Teacher Innovation. Keeping a pulse on these three interdependent components with the same level of concern for language acquisition can help close the achievement gap.