The increasing linguistic diversity that has occurred in the U.S. over the past two decades is nowhere more evident than in P-3 classrooms and settings. Given the correlations between linguistic/cultural diversity, social prejudice, and poverty, many DLLs are implicated in the persistent achievement gaps that are well-documented in states and districts around the country. To close these gaps, specific and strategic attention to DLLs is required when planning comprehensive P-3 approaches. This page provides links to some of the most recent and promising P-3 efforts that place DLLs at the forefront of their work.
Overview of Issues
English Language Learners (ELLs) lag far behind all other students, except those with disabilities, on state reading and math assessments. A high-quality PreK-3rd grade education, with aligned standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessments, is the most economical and effective route to the "meaningful education" promised to ELLs in the Lau v. Nichols lawsuit over 40 years ago.
With a strong focus on PreK-3rd grade, Union City Public Schools overcame the crippling effects of poverty and prejudice to close the achievement gap between its low-income Hispanic students and their wealthier peers across New Jersey. The district overhauled its curricula to emphasize critical thinking and reasoning, extended classtime, and increased teacher training. The district also bridged the all-too-common divide between home and school, particularly for young Dual Language Learners (DLLs).
Washington, DC has one of the fastest-growing populations of dual language learners (DLLs) in the nation. This report highlights the success of the dual immersion instructional model-programs offered by the District of Columbia Public Schools and the myriad changes that district leaders and staff have implemented in order to better support the academic achievement and English language acquisition of their DLL students.
This case study examines the work that Portland, Oregon's David Douglas School District has undertaken to address the needs of its diverse dual language learners (DLLs). David Douglas leaders have swtiched from a pull-out English as a Second Language instructional model to a push-in English Language Development model, where the English language is explicitly taught to DLLs and non-DLLs alike in mainstream classrooms. In addition to this instructional shift, the district is also working to expand its PreK programs and is partnering with local non-profit organizatoins to provide services, programs, and resources that support family engagement in elementary schools.
This paper explores the ways in which educators and policymakers in San Antonio, Texas are working to promote the academic and linguistic development of dual language learners (DLLs). Author Conor P. Williams places particular emphasis on the work that the city is doing to invest in high-quality PreK through its new PreK4SA program; the efforts of area school districts to update their instructional models to focus on DLLs' home languages; and the work that a variety of organizations are undertaking, in coordination with area schools, to develop dual-generation and family engagement programs that support DLLs and their families.
The New America Foundation publicly launched the Dual Language Learners Work Group in January 2015. Work Group founder Conor Williams identified the following as priorities for their work:
- Conduct case studies of districts implementing innovative policies for supporting DLLs;
- Convene meetings of leading DLL advocates, researchers, and policy thinkers; and
- Provide a steady stream of coverage around how education reforms affect language learners in the PreK-3rd grade years.