National Writing Project

College Board Report Profiles Six Teachers on Current Teaching Practices of English Language Learners and Immigrant Students

Report Offers Recommendations on the Need for National Teaching Standards and Immigration Policy to Support All Students

For Immediate Release


New York, New York, May 11, 2011—During a Capitol Hill briefing today, a panel of nationally recognized teachers shared their teaching experiences of English language learners (ELL) and immigrant students, and offered recommendations to policymakers and educators on how our schools must improve to better serve today's student populations for college and career readiness.

Highlighting the importance of this topic in the national education debate, the 2008 Biennial Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Title III State Formula Grant Program by the U.S. Department of Education identifies approximately five million K–12 students in the United States as "limited English proficient." This was one of many notable ELL statistics noted in Teacher Voices: Immigration, Language and Culture, a report released today by the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center , the National Writing Project (NWP), and Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK).

College Board President Gaston Caperton said, "At the College Board, we are committed to supporting students without regard to race, background, or nationality. Unfortunately, some do not enter the classroom with a strong grasp of English, and as such require extra help. As a group of educators, citizens, and parents, the College Board is proud to play a role in the effort to serve this important and rapidly growing group of students and the teachers that support them."

In the conversation at the Capitol Hill briefing, the panelists were given an opportunity to provide further perspective and insights on the importance of this student population to our national success, the challenges faced by both students and teachers in an academic environment, and the role that education plays in these students' lives.

"We know that teachers are one of the most important influences on improving student achievement. The six teachers in this report represent the many educators in our schools who are innovating and reforming education to meet their students' needs every day," said Sharon J. Washington, executive director of the National Writing Project.

The report makes several recommendations at the national, state, and local levels to meet the challenges of improving student achievement, especially for ELL and immigrant students.

Among the national and state-level recommendations:

  • A set of mutually agreed-upon standards for English language teaching and professional development
  • Assessments that accurately measure ELL progress, strengths and weaknesses, and school accountability
  • Passage of an immigration bill that encourages all students to achieve academically at all levels
  • Support for school reform to ensure safe and effective learning environments for all students.

Among the local and classroom-level recommendations:

  • A vision of ELL and immigrant students as assets to our schools, communities, and country
  • A wide variety of teaching methods, including collaborative learning
  • Teaching and learning based on the needs of individual students
  • Teaching many means of communication, including a strong focus on writing.

The teachers were nominated and selected for the Immigration, Language and Culture report to provide a diverse set of disciplines, locations, kinds of schools and student populations. In each case, a writer spent a day at each school observing the teacher, followed by an interview and recorded conversation. A photographer also visited each school. The teachers profiled include:

  • Brandy De Alba, Roosevelt Elementary School, Stockton, Calif.
  • Anthony Finney, The Flushing International High School, Queens, N.Y.
  • Sharon Ornelas, Thomas Edison High School, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Wilma Ortiz, Amherst Regional Middle School, Amherst, Mass.
  • Dolores Perez, Cromack Elementary School, Brownsville, Texas
  • Yumi Matsui, Life Academy of Health and Bioscience, Oakland, Calif.

The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center and the National Writing Project captured video interviews that feature each of the six profiled teachers about the challenges these teachers and their students face, best practices, and recommendations on how to implement teaching solutions. Today, a free webinar will also be available on Teacher Voices: Immigration, Language and Culture to discuss the report's policy recommendations with some of the teachers featured in the report.

This report is the fifth in the ongoing Teachers Are the Center of Education/Teacher Voicesseries. The series was developed to highlight the importance of teachers and the quality of their work, and to provide a forum to discuss critical issues in education.

About the National Writing Project

The National Writing Project (NWP) is a nationwide network of educators working together to improve the teaching of writing in the nation's schools and in other settings. NWP provides high-quality professional development programs to teachers in a variety of disciplines and at all levels, from early childhood through university. Through its network of more than 200 university-based sites located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, NWP develops the leadership, programs and research needed for teachers to help students become successful writers and learners.

About Reading Is Fundamental, Inc.

The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center was established to help transform education in America. Guided by the College Board's principles of excellence and equity in education, the Center works to ensure that students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond. Critical connections between policy, research and real-world practice are made to develop innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges in education today. Drawing from the experience of the College Board's active membership consisting of education professionals from more than 5,900 institutions, priorities include: College Preparation & Access, College Affordability & Financial Aid, and College Admission & Completion.

Phi Delta Kappa International

Phi Delta Kappa International is the premier professional association for educators. For more than 100 years, it has focused its work on the tenets of service, research and leadership. PDK is one of the largest education associations and has more than 35,000 members, including teachers, principals, superintendents, and higher education faculty and administrators. More than 250 local PDK chapters — most located on college campuses — give PDK members a unique opportunity to network with other like-minded educators. PDK's mission is to support education, particularly public education, as the cornerstone of democracy.

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