Building Teacher Capacity to Support English Language Learners in Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants

Laura Golden
Barbara Harris and Sarah Wissel, Mathematica Policy Research

Federal School Improvement Grants (SIGs) support turnaround efforts in the nation’s lowest-performing schools, including many that serve a large number of English Language Learner Students (ELLs). The Study of School Turnaround examines the improvement process in a sample of 35 case study schools receiving federal funds through the SIG program over a three-year period (2010–11 to 2012–13 school years).

This brief focuses on 11 of these SIG schools with high proportions (a median of 45 percent) of ELLs, describing their efforts to improve teachers' capacity for serving ELLs through staffing strategies and professional development.

Key Findings

  • Few schools reported leveraging staffing strategies to improve teacher capacity for serving ELLs.
  • Most teacher survey respondents (54 to 100 percent) in all 11 schools reported participating in ELL-related professional development during the 2011–12 school year.
  • Teacher survey respondents in schools that reported a greater professional development focus on ELL-related topics also generally appeared more likely to report that it improved their effectiveness as teachers of ELLs.