Archive for May, 2010


Trish Brennan-Gac
Learning Point Associates

During a three-month period from March through May 2010, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) conducted a series of eight hearings and roundtable discussions to explore specific topics related to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Almost every hearing featured a variety of education stakeholders including students, teachers, principals, district leaders, researchers, and leaders from business and nonprofit organizations.

Each speaker’s remarks focused on his or her organization’s work and the lessons learned through its efforts to improve our nation’s schools. Many speakers offered specific recommendations for the ESEA reauthorization. Although each hearing concentrated on a particular theme, it is no surprise that many individual testimonies covered multiple issues such as a focus on teachers and leaders and the use of data to improve instruction. This natural convergence of common themes stresses integration of programs and approaches and shows flexibility in the use of funds.

One area in which policymakers are clearly struggling is the topic of meeting the needs of students and schools in rural communities. In the Great Lakes West region, there are large rural communities where many initiatives and approaches are working successfully. We encourage you to share with us any successful strategies you and your education leaders are employing in your states.

A link to the HELP Committee’s Web page where you can watch a recording of the hearing or download a particular speaker’s testimony and a Key Remarks page is provided for each hearing, recordings of the hearings and summary documents are on the Great Lakes West website.

The Center on Instruction (COI) has released a new resource that addresses the challenges faced by English language learners (ELLs), who must acquire the content knowledge necessary for academic success while simultaneously developing their English language competency. Effective Practices for English Language Learners: Principals from Five States Speak examines key practices of principals from 49 schools that have achieved excellent academic success. This resource has taken on the challenging task of describing both research and successful practices and the connections between the two. In the document, COI acknowledges that research has not gone far enough to identify “effective, high-quality instructional strategies or about school contexts that promote ELLs’ academic development.” In an effort fill this gap, COI identifies the characteristics of school practices that have experienced success for ELL students.

Specific examples of strategies that you have seen achieve success with ELL students would make this conversation richer. Please share any examples or strategies that would help others working to succeed with ELL populations.