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"No Child Left Behind" Sparks Innovative Strategies
Report from the NJTESOL/NJBE Summer Institute

Ana Mistral, NJTESOL/NJBE president, spoke on reading instruction The NJTESOL/NJBE Summer Institute, held June 26-27 at Fairleigh Dickinson University, in Hackensack, New Jersey, featured several very useful workshops to help elementary school and secondary school teachers and administrators come to grips with new changes in the ESEA Reauthorization, commonly referred to as the "No Child Left Behind Act." For politicos who might have been looking to sharpen their grinding axes, there wasn't much here. Instead, participants were treated to a rational discussion of the obligations our schools still have to educate English language learners (ELLs) and some successful strategies for teaching them.

Maryln McAdam and Moira Lenehan-Razzuri, of McA Enterprises, Inc., an education consulting firm in Washington, D.C., provided a cogent overview of new and continuing regulations for assessment of English language learners under ESEA. "The nexus between Title I and Title III is convoluted and complex," explained Dr. McAdam. Title I in its current form has been in effect since 1994, she said, but there were no consequences for schools which didn't follow the law. "Now what this [ESEA Reauthorization] act does is give teeth to parts of the law pertaining to ELL populations."

Dr. Maryln McAdam explained new Title III rulesLimited English Proficient (LEP) students must be included in each state's assessment system under the new law. In addition, the scores of LEP students have to be "disaggregated" for reporting to parents, schools and the public and for determining yearly progress. The Title I funding which certain schools receive is going to be contingent on following the new LEP assessment statutes in Title III.

One of the key phrases in the new law is a requirement that to the extent practicable states assess LEP students in the language and form most likely to yield accurate and reliable results, according to McAdam and Lenehan-Razzuri. Their advice is to first identify the LEP student population in the state. "States and districts should consider what languages their LEP students speak, their native language literacy, their language of instruction and their level of English language proficiency," say McAdam and Lenehan-Razzuri in a handout now available on the NJTESOL/NJBE Web site.

In some cases, the new law would appear to dictate that states with significant numbers of LEP students sharing the same non-English native language should offer assessment in content areas using that language. Furthermore, where smaller numbers of students speaking a particular native language are concerned, the new ESEA statute seems to suggest that special accomodations such as native-language interpreters be provided. In her remarks to the NJTESOL/NJBE audience, Dr. McAdam suggested that there may be an inherent conflict between popular "English-only" propositions in some states and federal statutory requirements for native-language assessment in academic content areas under the "No Child Left Behind Act." (More info at and

Dr. Gloria J. Garcia showed bilingual ed is still relevantClearly, the "No Child Left Behind Act" provides no easy answers to schools and districts seeking to effectively educate growing numbers of ELLs in their student populations. Neither does the new law prevent states for whom bilingual education has been useful from continuing to utilize this tool. In another workshop, Dr. Gloria J. Garcia, Assistant Professor of Education and Bilingual/ESL Coordinator at Georgian Court College, in Lakewood, New Jersey, demonstrated with spirit and vigor that bilingual education is still alive and well in the garden state.

In her workshop, "Bilingual/ESL Program Models," Dr. Garcia ( presented ESL and Bilingual models which address specific provisions of the New Jersey Administrative Code for schools.

If there are fewer than 10 LEP students enrolled within the schools of a district, the district is required by the New Jersey statute to offer "English language services ... in addition to the regular school program." According to Dr. Garcia, these services typically include: certified teachers, English instruction designed for LEP students, and at least three times a week. "Mainstream English language arts is not an equivalent," explained Dr. Garcia, "and speech is not appropriate unless a real problem has been identified."

New Jersey law requires that, when there are 10 or more LEP students enrolled within the schools of the district, the district shall establish an ESL program that provides up to two periods of daily ESL instruction... This ESL curriculum must be cross-referenced to the district's bilingual and content area curricula, by law, to ensure that ESL instruction is correlated to all the content areas being taught.

Typical settings for this ESL instruction include: magnet schools or neighborhood schools, pull-out for small-group instruction (at the same time as art, music or computer specials), team-teaching (two ESL teachers instruct a bilingual class in their classroom), class periods (ESL replacing mainstream English for grades 7-12) or vocational ESL.

Dr. Garcia reported that communication-based ESL (using the language in meaningful, relevant ways), content-based ESL (stressing language skills, content and vocabulary related to content area subjects) and sheltered English instruction (making grade-level content comprehensible while providing language development) have been the most effective ESL approaches.

New Jersey law also dictates the establishment of bilingual education programs in any district with 20 or more LEP students in any one language classification. Further, these bilingual programs must be designed to prepare LEP students to acquire sufficient English skills and content knowledge to meet the Core Curriculum Content Standards and all LEP students in bilingual programs also receive ESL classes. Teachers must have elementary and bilingual certification and, for secondary schools, content and bilingual certification.

The typical model which has worked in New Jersey, according to Dr. Garcia, is "transitional bilingual education," in which a student receives primarily native-language instruction in core curriculum subjects the first year, transitions to English reading and writing during his/her second year and is taught in English during the third year, with some native-language support. "Transitional bilingual education is most effective when there is a structured plan for when the actual transition from native language to English language instruction will occur," said Dr. Garcia.

Another model which has been used with some success, according to Dr. Garcia, is "Dual-Language," or two-way bilingual education. "Dual language means a full-time program of instruction which provides structured content area instruction in both English and the native language," she explained. "For example, in some districts, a dual language class might be composed of 50 percent native speakers of another language and 50 percent native speakers of English." Dual-language programs will vary in how they alternate between the two language of instruction, according to Dr. Garcia. Some will offer native language in the morning and English in the afternoon; others, alternating daily; still others, a week at a time in each language.

When LEP students are enrolled in dual-language programs for six to seven years, Dr. Garcia reported, "there is evidence that they achieve a higher degree of academic success than students who receive transitional bilingual education or ESL-only instruction." However, districts considering dual language must consider a number of crucial factors, including: staff development for mainstream, bilingual and ESL teachers and paraprofessionals; parental awareness and support; integration with school programs; language allocation; and integration among instructional components. It is also important to design ways to integrate new students, whether LEP or native English speakers, who enter the program in subsequent years, warned Dr. Garcia. "One important topic would be the local board of education's willingness to make the long-term commitment which dual language programs require," she said.

Summer Institute co-coordinators Judy O'Loughlin and Elizabeth FranksAt some stage in any of these approaches to teaching LEP students, it is going to be necessary and desirable that the learners gain the confidence and strategic skills required for comprehending content area instruction in English. This is the goal for all K-12 educators, whether they espouse bilingual, dual or immersion policies. At that point in the language and culture learning process, the "Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol," presented in another workshop by Judith B. O'Loughlin, past-president of NJTESOL/NJBE and co-coordinator of the Summer Institute, has obvious applications.

In her workshop, "Making Content Comprehensible for English Language Learners: SIOP," Ms. O'Loughlin ( described metacognitive, cognitive and social/affective strategies we can teach our students to help them meet the challenges of learning in an English classroom environment.

Metacognitive strategies are grouped under three categories: planning (advance organization, organizational planning, selective attention and self-management), monitoring (monitoring comprehension and monitoring production) and self-assessment.

The details of each strategy suggest ways we can help English language learners become more effective students. The advance organization strategy involves previewing, skimming, getting the gist. Organizational planning means planning what to do. Selective attention means listening or reading selectively, scanning, finding specific information, using key words, phrases, linguistic markers. Self-management entails planning when, where and how to study.

Monitoring comprehension means training students to think about certain things while listening or while reading, checking comprehension during the process instead of at the end. Monitoring production means checking ones oral or written production while it is taking place. Self-assessment includes checking back, keeping a learning log and reflecting on what you have learned.

Cognitive strategies include: resourcing (using reference materials), grouping (classifying words, constructing graphic organizers), note-taking (writing down key words, using idea maps, T-lists), elaboration of prior knowledge (using what you already know, making personal associations), summarizing (making a mental note of information gained), deduction/induction (applying or deriving rules to understand a concept or complete a learning task), imagery (visualize to learn information or solve a problem), auditory representation (mentally replaying a word or phrase) and making inferences (using contextual clues).

Social/Affective strategies are: questioning for clarification (getting additional explanation or verification), cooperation (working with peers to complete a task, pool information) and self-talk (reducing anxiety by thinking positively about ones competence).

Judy O'Loughlin presented ways to apply these strategies for different subject areas, including mathematics, literature, composition, social studies and science. By training LEP students in these strategies and giving them ample opportunities to practice them until they are internalized, ESL teachers are giving their students mental and social maps to become more independent learners.

Ms. O'Loughlin also led workshop participants through the CREDE standards for effective pedagogy and learning. "These standards represent recommendations on which the literature is in agreement," she said, "across all cultural, racial and linguistic groups in the United States, all age levels and all subject matters."

"Even for mainstream students," said Ms. O'Loughlin, "the standards describe the ideal conditions for instruction. But for students at-risk of educational failure, effective classroom implementation of the standards is vital."

Joint Productive Activity is the first standard, which suggests that teachers "facilitate learning through joint productive activity among teacher and students." According to Ms. O'Loughlin, "learning occurs most effectively when experts and novices work together for a common product or goal, and are therefore motivated to assist one another."

The second CREDE standard is Language Development, to "develop competence in the language and literacy of instruction across the curriculum." Whether in a bilingual or monolingual setting, literacy is the crucial competency for success, explained Judy O'Loughlin. "Language development at all levels--informal, problem-solving and academic," she insisted, "should be fostered through use and through purposeful, deliberate conversation between teacher and students, not through drills and decontextualized rules."

Contextualization is the third CREDE standard, which means to "connect teaching and curriculum to students' experiences and skills of home and community." This standard calls for culturally meaningful contexts, according to Ms. O'Loughlin. "Schema theorists, cognitive scientists, behaviorists and psychological anthropologists agree that school learning is made meaningful by connecting it to students' personal, family and community experiences," she explained. "Collaboration with parents and communities can reveal appropriate patterns of participation, conversation, knowledge and interests that will make literacy, numeracy and science meaningful to all students."

CREDE standard number four is Challenging Activities, or to "challenge students toward cognitive complexity." According to Ms. O'Loughlin, students at risk, especially LEP students, are often not seriously challenged, or are "forgiven any genuine assessment of progress." But, "while such policies may often be the result of benign motives," she said, "the effect is to deny many diverse students the basic requirements of progress--high academic standards and meaningful assessment that allows feedback and responsive assistance."

Instructional Conversation is the fifth CREDE standard, to "engage students through dialogue, especially the instructional conversation." Judy O'Loughlin explained that in the instructional conversation, "the teacher listens carefully, makes guesses about intended meaning and adjusts responses to assist students' efforts."

It is more than clear that the teachers and administrators of New Jersey are far too busy trying to help the English language learners in their schools--using every tool at their disposal--to worry about the politics of "English only" or whether a Republican or Democrat wrote the "No Child Left Behind Act." The NJTESOL/NJBE workshops equipped ESL/bilingual professionals in New Jersey to meet the new requirements of the law while giving them solid pedagogy to use in doing so.

Reported by Robb Scott

2002 ESL MiniConference Online