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K-12 English Learners’ Science and Math Education: A Question of Curricular Equity

Abstract

"Historically, English learner (EL) academic achievement has lagged significantly behind that of both their English only and more English proficient peers. While at first glance, one might attribute these disparities to English proficiency alone, several decades of legislative (Castaneda v. Pickard, 1981; Lau v. Nichols, 1974; Sinclair, 2016) and empirical (Lopez, McEneaney, & Nieswandt, 2015; Willig, 1985) evidence suggest that schools and educators play a crucial role in shaping EL achievement. Early EL education policy stressed the importance of ensuring content area access while students learned English (Del Valle, 2012; Hakuta, 2011; Mavrogordato, 2012), and researchers began to clearly identify various roadblocks to curricular equity. EL education policy speaks to the three legs of education: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. Curriculum encompasses content area access and exposure; Instruction embodies the provision of pedagogical support; Assessment involves the measurement English proficiency and academic achievement, separately and combined. Woven through all three is the common theme of content area access and exposure, the backbone of curriculum, the goal of instruction, and the target of assessment. Educational equity for EL students would require equitable attention to all three areas, something the EL educational policy implementation has arguably not yet ensured. "

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