Monthly Archives: November 2011

November 18th Podcast – Strengthening Assessment and Accountability for English Learner Success: Challenges and Choices Facing California

Robert Linquanti, WestEd

Educational assessment policy must produce measures of performance that are fair and accurate for all students in order to convey clear and helpful information to educators, parents, and the students themselves. Achieving these objectives is especially challenging when it comes to the nation’s 5 million K-12 public school English learners (ELs). English learners are linguistic-minority students not sufficiently proficient in English to be able to benefit adequately from regular classroom instruction and demonstrate their knowledge and abilities using English. In California more than half of the children now entering public schools come from households where the first language is not English, and nearly 1.5 million are currently English Learners.

In this seminar Robert Linquanti discusses how next-generation state assessment and accountability systems can be made more responsive to the needs and strengths of ELs. Linquanti argues that innovation must be grounded in a clear understanding of the EL population, as well as of English language proficiency and its relationship to academic subject matter learning and assessment. He explains how the common core standards “push the envelope” for ELs and educators, and argues that comprehensive assessment systems can and must strengthen teacher pedagogical practice with ELs. Finally, he suggests ways in which California educational leaders and policymakers can exert national leadership on these issues.

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Innovation in Developmental Education: The Landscape and the Locus of Change

In the third of eleven PACE Working Papers, W. Norton Grubb et al, continue their analysis of basic skills education in California Community Colleges.

Community colleges are full of innovation in developmental education, and some of these have the promise of changing the “remedial pedagogy” that can be so ineffective. In this working paper the authors review six kinds of innovations: (1) the efforts of individual practitioners, which can be found in many colleges but which reach very few students; (2) the developments in limited numbers of departments that have come together, under particular conditions, to create their own alternative pedagogies; (3) learning communities and linked courses, unfortunately less common than the authors had hoped; (5) reforms following K-12 initiatives, specifically Reading Apprenticeship and the writing process methods of the National Writing Project; (6) the formation of Faculty Interest Groups to stimulate faculty discussions that might in turn lead to reforms.

There is, then, no dearth of good ideas about how to improve developmental education, though the scale and thoroughness of these innovations vary enormously. The conditions that nurture innovations are also critical to their success, and we uncovered one pattern — innovation from the middle, with the joint efforts of senior-level faculty and middle-level administrators — that seems necessary for widespread reform.

Innovation in Developmental Education: The Landscape and the Locus of Change