Establishing equitable policies for English learners

by Joseph P. Robinson-Cimpian  /   Mar 30, 2016

news item picture

Scholar’s blog post conveys research overview of policy findings in longer published paper

Current and former “English learners” (ELs) make up approximately 40 percent of California’s public-school student population. Establishing and implementing equitable policies and programs that simultaneously facilitate English proficiency and academic excellence for this group is of the utmost importance for the future well-being of California, according to a recent blog post by Joseph P. Robinson-Cimpian, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology.

Robinson-Cimpian was invited to share his thoughts on the Conditions of Education in California blog for Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), an independent, non-partisan research center that strives to bridge the gap between research and policy. His post provides an overview of the paper “Research and Policy Considerations for English Learner Equity,” which he co-wrote with Karen Thompson and Ilana Umansky.

The trio’s study focuses on what robust research suggests about effective policies concerning EL reclassification, use of native language, access to the core curriculum, and assessment and accountability.

Robinson-Cimpian notes in his blog that promising research has come out about “dual immersion” programs, which encompass both ELs and non-ELs and teach partly in English and partly in the partner language.

“As mentioned above,” Robinson-Cimpian writes, “bilingual education programs have recently been found to be particularly beneficial for helping students acquire English and succeed academically. Thus, the evidence suggests a reconsideration of Proposition 227, which substantially reduced bilingual-education program offerings across the state. We also found that ELs are often educated in classes that segregate them from non-EL students and limit their access to the core academic curriculum in subjects like English language arts and mathematics.”

Robinson-Cimpian ends his post by saying that the academic success of Els requires many different and multi-pronged services and policies.

Read the full post by Robinson-Cimpian.