In 2002, IDRA rigorously studied exemplary bilingual education programs in schools across the nation as determined by English learner academic achievement. Amid a backdrop of great language diversity among the students and parents that U.S. schools serve are schools with exemplary bilingual education programs and extraordinary individuals who are committed to equity and excellence. One of the 25 common characteristics that contribute to the high academic performance of students served by bilingual education programs is a quality curriculum. In the 10 schools IDRA studied, the curricula were planned to adapt instruction in ways that respect students’ native language and reflect their culture. All of the classroom instruction was meaningful, academically challenging, and linguistically and culturally relevant. Teachers used a variety of strategies and techniques, including technology, that responded to different learning styles. Teachers and administrators reported their bilingual program was designed to meet the students’ needs, including recognition of the need for alignment between the curriculum standards, assessments and professional development. Teachers were actively involved in curriculum planning and met regularly with administrative support to plan.

IDRA’s study was funded by the U.S. Department of Education and informed IDRA’s publication, Good Schools and Classrooms for Children Learning English: A Guide. IDRA continues to work with teachers and administrators to assure rigorous bilingual programs have high quality curricula that produce excellent outcomes for children. More examples and resources from IDRA’s curriculum quality research and development work is online at

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[©2014, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the March 2014 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Every effort has been made to maintain the content in its original form. However, accompanying charts and graphs may not be provided here. To receive a copy of the original article by mail or fax, please fill out our information request and feedback form. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]