National Writing Project

Double the Work: Challenges and Solutions to Acquiring Language and Academic Literacy for Adolescent English Language Learners

Date: 2007

Summary: This report, commissioned by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, outlines an action-oriented agenda that includes reform in teacher education and educational research, reform in school administration practices for ELL students, and the introduction of new instructional approaches likely to increase student achievement.

 

double the work coverDouble the Work (PDF), co-funded by the Carnegie Foundation and the Center for Applied Linguistics, outlines the challenges that secondary English language learners (ELLs) face in trying to meet grade-level academic expectations while they are still acquiring the English language. This report is crucial reading for all individuals who work with secondary ELLs, whether as classroom teachers, support teachers, or administrators.

Double the Work identifies the major challenges to improving literacy in adolescent ELLs:

  • Lack of common criteria for identifying ELLs and tracking their performance
  • Lack of appropriate assessments
  • Inadequate educator capacity for improving literacy in ELLs
  • Lack of appropriate and flexible program options
  • Limited use of research-based instructional practices
  • Lack of a strong and coherent research agenda for adolescent ELL literacy

The report makes the following recommendations to help meet the literacy needs of ELLs:

  • Set common criteria for identifying these learners and tracking their performance.
  • Develop new and improved assessments of their native language abilities, English language development, and content-knowledge learning.
  • Build capacity among pre-service and current educators to instruct these learners effectively.
  • Design appropriate and flexible secondary school programs that offer time and coursework that account for the second language development process.
  • Use research-based instructional practices more widely and consistently.
  • Fund and conduct more short- and long-term research on new and existing interventions and programs, and on the academic performance of these adolescent ELLs.

Copyright 2007 Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Short, Deborah J., and Shannon Fitzsimmons. 2007. Double the Work: Challenges and Solutions to Acquiring Language and Academic Literacy for Adolescent English Language Learners. A report commissioned by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.
http://www.carnegie.org/literacy/pdf/DoubletheWork.pdf

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