Laurie Posner

A School District Vision for ELL Education – Podcast Episode 149 | Classnotes Podcast 149

Classnotes Podcast (March 6, 2015) In an environment where the pressure on educators is to push English and show results on English-language tests has been an excuse for side-stepping research and best practices, the effect has been dismal academic performance among English language learners. IDRA’s 2015 inaugural IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellows Program symposium highlighted research for Texas showing that ELLs are among the lowest academically performing groups of students, particularly in middle school and high school.

In this podcast episode, dual language coordinator Rosalva Silva, however, describes her vision for her school district that ELL children have the opportunity to become bilingual, bicultural and biliterate. With her leadership in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district, Ms. Silva is making sure teachers and administrators understand and use effective strategies for educating ELLs that give students a strong academic foundation in their native language, which catalyzes their learning of English.

Ms. Silva and her sister Rosario Lucero, a retired educator from the Raymondville school district, are interviewed by Laurie Posner, MPA, director of civic engagement at IDRA.

Show length: 15:20

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IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellows Program symposium

Texas Underfunds ELL Education; Impacts Student Achievement
New Research on Education of English Learners in Middle School & High School Released at IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellow Program Symposium

Framework for Effective Instruction of Secondary English Language Learners

Bilingual Discussion Guide: Bilingual v. ESL – Los programas bilingϋes y de inglés como segundo idioma (Slideshare)

Education of English Language Learners in U.S. and Texas Schools – Where We Are, What We Have Learned and Where We Need to Go from Here – A 2009 Update

“Successful Bilingual Education Programs” 
by María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., and Josie Danini Cortez, M.A., IDRA Newsletter

Research Study Results: Good Schools and Classrooms for Children Learning English. 
Research by IDRA identified the 25 common characteristics of successful schools that contribute to high academic performance of students learning English.

Engagement Based Sheltered Instruction
A rich model of student engagement that helps educators understand students’ language proficiency levels and the language demands of content areas, texts and tests; develop student academic language in content areas; and plan, teach and observe for maximum cognitive engagement.

National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition & Language Instruction Educational Programs (NCELA)
Analyzes, synthesizes and disseminates information about language instruction educational programs for English language learners and related programs. NCELA is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

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Show Notes

  • Ms. Silva shares her overall vision of education and her hopes for English language learners (ELLs).

  • Ms. Silva reflects on her professional development over her career in bilingual education, from her role as a dual-language strategist to her work coordinating the biliteracy program for the PSJA district.

  • Ms. Silva laments that ELLs are often “blamed” for their low academic performance: “I know it’s not because our children don’t have the capability to learn. It’s how we are educating them. We don’t educate them the way we’re supposed to… I think it’s our fault, but we don’t say that.”

  • Ms. Silva explains why learning English should not come at the cost of students losing their identity and native language skills.

  • Ms. Silva talks about working with parents and educators to change the negative mindset and misinformation that are associated with bilingual education.

  • Ms. Silva argues the need for building a stronger foundation in the students’ native language as a path to also improving their English language skills.

  • Laurie asks Ms. Silva and Ms. Lucero what can be done at the state level to ensure that teachers receive better support and resources for working with ELLs.