A Tool to Help Support Districts’ Efforts to Assess their English Learner Program

June 2018
teacher and students in a classroom

A district’s instructional program for English learners has many components, including professional development, choosing appropriate instructional materials and effective instructional strategies, meeting the social and academic needs of English learners, family outreach and involvement, and others.

To help districts assess their English learner program—and optimize their support for English learner students—we created a research-based tool that addresses key components of a district’s program for English learners.

In addition to covering a wide range of topics, the tool (which has had successful pilots in Oregon and Washington) provides specific criteria that give districts a road map for elevating their English learner program.

The 70 items that comprise the tool are organized into eight sections, which can take as little as 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

Further, the tool can be adapted for a range of contexts; some districts had only the English learner program coordinator complete it, others asked all English learner staff members to fill it out and one district sent the tool to principals to get school-based perspectives and to educate administrators about the program.

Districts can reap substantial benefits from gathering information with the tool, regardless of whether they complete all the sections or focus on one section that is an immediate priority.

Along those lines, after filling out the tool, the results can be used to:

  • Benchmark progress over time
  • Identify differences in how staff members perceive the district’s English learner program
  • Structure discussions with school board members, other districts and state offices of education
  • Inform the community about the district’s English learner program
  • Identify areas in which help is needed from research institutions and technical assistance providers
  • Pinpoint areas of focus in state and federal plans

It is important to note, however, that we did not create the tool for ranking or sorting districts. Rather, we designed it so that districts can understand and improve their own program for English learners.

To learn more about services Education Northwest provides to help districts improve their English learner program, contact Kelli Scardina .