Education Week - July 8, 2015 - (Page 6)

Ariz.'s 20-Year-Old ELL Case May End, But Debate Rages On By Corey Mitchell A federal appeals court ruling may signal the end of a long-standing legal fight over Arizona's approach to educating its Englishlearners, but the state remains at the epicenter of the national debate over how to best teach students who enter school speaking another language. Upholding a decision by a lower court, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month ruled in favor of the state in Flores v. Arizona, a 23-year-old lawsuit challenging Arizona's requirement that English-learners spend more than half their school day learning English. No Violation The plaintiffs argued that the state's approach to teaching English-learners-which includes a mandated four-hour block of English instruction-violated the federal Equal Educational Opportunities Act, a law that requires states and districts to provide students with appropriate aid to overcome language barriers. The appellate court's three-judge panel rejected that argument, writing in its opinion that no evidence exists to prove that the state is shortchanging ells. "The record does not contain enough years of ell performance data after the implementation of the four-hour model to be certain of the model's effectiveness at teaching English or of its long-term impact on overall academic success," the judges wrote in their opinion. Tim Hogan, a lawyer who represents the plaintiffs, has filed a petition for a new hear- ing. While the appeals court ruling could bring an end to the Flores case, the struggle over Arizona's mandatory English-only classes will continue to be conducted through other channels. The U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights and the U.S. Department of Justice have been investigating districts since 2010 to address a complaint that the four-hour block of daily English instruction illegally segregates students-one of the central issues addressed in the appellate court ruling. "The program has all kinds of things wrong with it," said Mr. Hogan, the executive director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. "The state is saying, 'If you spend more time learning English every day, you'll learn faster.' But the research shows that's not the case." In the years since the case began, English-only programs have fallen out of favor nationally as scholars unearthed further evidence that other instructional models are more effective. State education officials did not comment on the court ruling, but a spokesman for Diane Douglas, Arizona's superintendent of public instruction, said the schools chief "hopes that this issue is now resolved." "The superintendent is committed to ensuring that all Arizona students, including ell students, receive an excellent education," said spokesman Charles Tack. Federal Demands In their latest probe of Arizona's ell program, federal officials want the state to use testing to determine when students no lon- ger need four hours a day of English-immersion classes. They also want to require the state to hire a monitor for its English-only program. But the state wants teachers to decide a student's progress and when it is time to reduce the amount of instruction. Both the state and federal education department officials declined to discuss how " teach them?" Ms. Combs said. "The ruling was not surprising because a court is not particularly interested in those questions." Ms. Combs' report makes recommendations for improving education for ells, including: conducting a study to determine appropriate funding; granting districts more instructional flexibility; and disbanding the state's English Language Learners Task Force. Guarded Optimism? What's missing in this whole [legal] discourse is the kids. What is the best way to teach them?" MARY CAROL COMBS University of Arizona the court's ruling could affect the investigation and negotiations. With an estimated 86,000 ells in its public schools, Arizona has been in court, legislative, and ballot-box battles spanning more than 20 years over how to teach English to children who enter school speaking another language. Mary Carol Combs, an associate professor at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, co-authored a 2013 report on Arizona's longrunning English-learner saga. "What's missing in this whole [legal] discourse is the kids. What is the best way to The federal oversight and legislative wrangling over the state's ell policies give Mr. Hogan hope that opponents of the state's approach to educating English-learners will find another avenue to overturn it. In December, the state board of education voted to allow schools to cut the mandatory four hours of instruction in half for second-year students who are improving. And the U.S. Education and Justice departments reached a series of agreements with Arizona education officials over the last five years, brokering deals that ell advocates celebrated. As part of a settlement reached in 2012, Arizona agreed to offer targeted reading and writing instruction to tens of thousands of students who were denied services. That resolved a complaint that students had been incorrectly identified as fluent in English or prematurely moved out of language-assistance programs. The ocr found in 2010 that Arizona's home-language survey, used by schools to identify students to be tested for ell services, and the process the state uses to reclassify students as fluent in English, both violated federal law. Ed. School Critic Levine, MIT Partner to Launch Teacher-Prep 'Lab' By Stephen Sawchuk Former Teachers College, Columbia University, President Arthur E. Levine is widely known as a critic of teacher education programs. So it may be an example of chutzpah-or potentially hubris-that under an initiative launched last month, he'll be helping to create one from the ground up. "Basically, the reason for doing it is that today's programs, even the top programs, are outdated. They were built for different times," said Mr. Levine, the president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, which kicked off the $30 million initiative in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on June 16. The project, which will focus on preparing secondary mathematics and science teachers, has ambitious plans to experiment with some of the most high-profile-and controversial-ideas in higher education delivery, including digital learning, open-source curricula, competencybased education, and simulations. As envisioned, the Woodrow Wilson Academy for Teaching and Learning will dispense with credit hours and seat-time requirements. Candidates will progress through the program at their own pace as they master a set of teaching competencies. The academy will also encompass a research component designed to study variables affecting preparation quality, such as candidate selection, curricula, and lesson sequencing. Customized Curriculum Mr. Levine released a series of scathing reports in the 2000s on the quality of the preparation of teachers, school leaders, and education researchers. His subsequent work at the Wilson Foundation, in Princeton, N.J., has centered on improving existing teaching programs at some 28 colleges across five states. Rather than tinkering with existing programs, however, the new effort will begin from scratch. Each candidate will be given a customized plan of study, much of it to be delivered through digital-learning modules. In addition to the modules, the candidates will complete studentteaching assignments. Candidates' specific academic plans will be adjusted based on regular assessments by a corps of master teachers. The teaching competencies will be developed by instructionalpractice expert Charlotte Danielson and adapted by mit researchers to specific math and science disciplines. The university also will 6 | EDUCATION WEEK | July 8, 2015 | help develop and pilot the curriculum and simulations to help the candidates practice their skills. M i t currently has a small teacher-preparation program of its own that prepares about a dozen teachers a year. But the new partnership offers the university the opportunity to work with far more candidates and craft a strong model for teacher development, said Eric Klopfer, an education professor at mit and a lead researcher on the project. The academy is scheduled to launch in 2017-18, and after its ARTHUR E. LEVINE: shakeout year A critic of teacher-prep will cost apprograms now enters the proximately $15,000 for a arena with a venture candidate who starting from a blank slate. completes it within a year. Once the program is approved by Massachusetts, graduates would earn a master's degree through the foundation. In addition to preparing teachers, the initiative will double as a laboratory for conducting research on teacher preparation, with the goal of improving the field's fragmented research base. The academy's curriculum modules will be created as open-source products that can be adopted by other teacher-preparation programs nationwide. Experimental Approach Mr. Levine pointed to the opportunity to experiment as the most appealing benefit of starting with a fresh slate. "We don't have to fix something; we have the opportunity to build something that doesn't exist yet," he said. That will also mean both successes and misfires as the program matures, the officials said, one reason why the first cohort of teachers won't owe tuition. "I think the challenge will be working with these models that don't have a lot of background or history," Mr. Klopfer said. "How closely will we be able to hold to them? If someone's almost all the way finished with the program, but not quite, do we push them along? How do we mediate this mix of hybrid and face-to-face learning?" The Wilson Foundation-mit effort comes during a period of experimentation in teacher preparation. Charter school management organizations have launched a variety of homegrown teachertraining approaches; some, like the Relay Graduate School of Education, in New York City, have been permitted to grant their own degrees. Wi t h r e s p e c t t o r e s e a r c h , teacher-educators at the Teaching Works project at the University of Michigan are studying and isolating beginning-teacher competencies. And a newly formed organization of education deans also has plans to define core teaching practices. "It's exciting to see new entrants in this space, particularly one led by someone who sees the need to prepare teachers to make use of technology and data to foster student learning," said Ben Riley, the founder of that Austin, Texas-based group, Deans for Impact. The academy's early financial supporters include the Seattlebased Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Carnegie Corporation of New York; the Simons Foundation, a New York City-based philanthropy that supports math and science research; and the Amgen Foundation, a corporate philanthropy located in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (Gates and Carnegie provide support for coverage of academic standards and innovation, respectively, in Education Week.)

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - July 8, 2015

Education Week - July 8, 2015
Nev. Moves to Split Clark Co. District
Crazy Quilt of State Responses To Cries of Overtesting
Common Core Trickles Into All States
Advocates Scrutinize Head Start Proposals
Supreme Court To Decide Case On Union Fees
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Ed. School Critic Levine, MIT Partner to Launch Teacher-Prep ‘Lab’
Ariz.’s 20-Year-Old ELL Case May End, But Debate Rages On
Spelling—en Español—Catches On, With Bees in Multiple States
Blogs of the Week
ISTE Conference Examines How Tech Is Reshaping Education
Budgets, Testing Issues Took Legislative Stage
States Struggle With How to Ensure Good Teachers in All Schools
K-12 Issues Fall Within Suite of Recent High Court Rulings
In States, Plenty of Talk But Incremental Action on Early Ed.
Lengthy Floor Debate Looms for U.S. Senate Over ESEA Rewrite
Fresh Entrants in GOP’s Quest For White House
House, Senate Appropriations Bills Would Cut Back Ed. Dept. Funding
What We’ve Learned From a Longer School Day and Year
The Illusion of Closing The Achievement Gap
The ‘Power’ of Adversity
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Scholars: Challenging Racial Injustice Begins With Us

Education Week - July 8, 2015