McREL
in the News

Research Says column examines the reasons behind the ELL achievement gap

In the latest Research Says column in Educational Leadership, McREL’s Bryan Goodwin and Heather Hein look at why, after years of various approaches to reduce the achievement gap between English-language learners (ELLs) and non-ELLs, the gap refuses to budge.

Despite dramatically rising numbers of ELLs in our nation’s schools, language acquisition is still largely misunderstood, the authors write, due in large part to a lack of professional development. This misunderstanding can lead to unrealistic expectations and a “deficit-thinking” mindset that puts ELLs at fault for their low performance. Goodwin and Hein suggest an “asset-based” approach to teacher education could help—one that focuses on language and diversity not as problems to solve but as opportunities to prepare all students for a globally connected world.

Read the entire column.

Article: Do’s and don’ts for engaging beginning-level ELLs

In the February issue of Educational Leadership, McREL’s Jane Hill focuses on six key actions teachers should and shouldn’t take when trying to engage and challenge beginning-level English-language learners. For example, teachers need to understand each ELL’s stage of language acquisition and not group them into too-broad categories, like “high level” and “low level.” Also, it’s important that all students—even the lowest-level ELLs—are engage in the same level of thinking. In other words, don’t water down the curriculum, regardless of an ELL’s level of English language acquisition.

Read the entire article.

McREL and partners to develop digital game to motivate students

An online news report on the University of Southern California’s (USC) website highlights the partnership between Professor of Psychology Daphna Oyserman, McREL International, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Filament Games, in developing and testing a digital game designed to motivate students.

The project, “Identity-Based Motivation Journey to Academic Success,” is funded by a five-year, $2.7 million Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The South Central Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services (SCBOCES), which serves minority and low-income students, will also participate.

Read the article.

Blog post: Balanced Leadership key to developing leaders at all levels in Tennessee district

In a recent post for Education Week‘s Leadership 360 blog, B.J. Worthington, director of schools for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) in Clarksville, Tenn., writes about the importance of leadership development at all levels, including, for his district, a comprehensive program for current and aspiring leaders based on McREL’s Balanced Leadership® Framework.

A consistent approach to leadership development, Dr. Worthington says, allows for “a common vocabulary and fidelity in the learning for all participants.” In addition, to ensure they consistently apply what they’ve learned now and into the future, the district has embraced the principles of high reliability organizations.

Read the blog post.

A review: Research sets Balanced Leadership book apart

In a review of McREL’s Balanced Leadership for Powerful Learning: Tools for Achieving Success in Your School on SmartBlog on Education, Fred Ende of the Putnam Northern Westchester (New York) BOCES says what the book does, that many others don’t, is “rely more on research and meta-analyses than anecdotes and experiences” to explain how to become an effective school leader.

He also describes his three most valuable take-aways from the book, including:

  • You can never ask “why” too many times.
  • Just because we’re focused on the right change for our schools and buildings doesn’t mean we’re employing the right behaviors to make that change.
  • When we lead, we can’t just worry about the relationships we have with others. We have to cultivate the relationship development between others too.

Read the full review.