Proposal for USP 186 draft by 772qom


									 Placement in the English Language Development Program: Are Public
    Elementary Schools in Los Angeles Properly Placing Students?

              A research proposal submitted to the Urban Studies and Planning Program
                               University of California at San Diego

                                           Karina Gonzalez
                                         USP 186 Section A01
                                          October 19, 2010


        This proposal will outline a research strategy to examine the effectiveness of the
placement system for the English Language Development Program (ELD). Current research
suggests that ELD offers a “systematic” education intended to provide supplementary instruction
for non or-limited-English speaking students. However, there are several fundamental problems
with the ELD program. Often time students are not placed properly or they do not make the
adequate progress of advancing an ELD level per year and falls behind. Also the teacher is the
one who determines a student’s advancement, often measures inadequately or is not sufficiently
prepared to teach English learners. This study will be of an analytical investigation of the
effectiveness of the ELD placement system at Cienega Elementary, located in Los Angeles,
California. This research will rely on interviews to teachers and school administrators, will
analyze the take-home surveys the parents are mandated to fill out to “properly” place the child
in ELD, and my participant observation as a teacher’s assistant in the classroom. I anticipate that
this study will also be shared with parents, teachers, community organizers, and other school
administrators in hopes that the findings will help improve the quality of education for these
underserved students.

Key Terms: English language learners, English Language Development Program (ELD),
Effective placement


       The majority of English learners in the state of California are first-generation immigrants,

the children of immigrants. Comparable to the growing immigrant population in the United

States, English-language learners are the fastest-growing population of students in California’s

public schools. “Latinos, are the second-largest and the fastest-growing minority in the United

States. By the year 2025, the United States will have the second-largest population of Spanish

                                                                                    GONZALEZ 1
speakers in the world.”1 Today, Latinos outnumber African Americans due to the continuing

immigration to this country in search of a better life. These figures are evident in Los Angeles,

California, which is slowly transforming into a Latino enclave. In 2008-09 the Los Angeles

Unified School District (LAUSD) reported a total of 1,021,427 Hispanic students enrolled in

their schools; this group of students makes up 62.6% of the county’s total enrollment.2

According to current LAUSD state test results, the percentage of English-Language learners who

can read, write, and speak English fluently decreased in 2009 in this school district. According

to the 2009 California English Language Development Test data, 37 % of all English language-

learners reached proficiency at LAUSD. These statistics are a source of concern for LAUSD

administrators, since their English-language learner population is 220,000 students, the largest

population of English learners of any district in the country.3 It is evident that Latino students are

not receiving a high quality education, a fundamental right of theirs. This phenomenon suggests

that that there is an increasing demand to effectively teach English and to implement strong dual-

language programs in public schools. These numbers demand that the state educate its growing

population, since without an educated population, the state’s future is at stake. Therefore, the

efficacy of programs such as ELD is essential to the education of this immigrant community. If

these students cannot master the conventions of English, while still embracing their native

language, they will not be prepared to pursue an institution of higher education, or to obtain a

decent job in order to be a contributing citizen of the United States.

1 C. Suarez-Orozco and M. M Suarez-Orozco, “Transformations: Immigration, family life, and achievement motivation among Latino
adolescents” (Stanford Univ Pr, 1995).
2 Ed-data website, Education Data Partnership, Fiscal, Demographic, and Performance Data on California’s K-12 Schools website, (accessed October 17, 2010).
3 Llanos, Connie. "More English-language learners at LAUSD, state test shows - LA Daily News." Home - LA Daily News. (accessed October 16, 2010).

Introduction to ELD Program:

             In June 1998, the state of California passed Proposition 227. This proposition marked the

first time the public had been asked to vote on a specific teaching method to educate students.

Proposition 227 prohibited the use of primary language for instructing English leaners because

proponents of Proposition 227 argued that bilingual education was unsuccessful as a result of the

underachievement of English learners and the low rate that English learners were reclassified as

English proficient.4 California has failed to realize that the reason for a child’s underachievement

is the school’s inability to understand that these students begin school without a sufficient

understanding of oral English, something a native English speaker effortlessly receive at home.

Proposition 227 came about during a stage of high unemployment. These times influenced many

concerns about individuals who were seen as “a Drain” on public offers, and supporters of

Proposition 227 argued that bilingual education was too expensive (P. Gandara et al. 2000). It is

evident that California does not recognize the need for incentives for a bilingual education; this

contributes to the negligence of these programs statewide. As an English learner, I know that I

would have benefited from a dual-language program in elementary school; I would have better

understood the conventions of both English and my native Language, Spanish.

             Due to the implementation of this proposition, alternative programs and structures to

maintain English immersion classes arose. As a result various English language immersion

programs came about to address the educational needs of the growing English language learner

population in the state. This research proposal will address the ELD program at Cienega

Elementary School. ELD is a “systematic” education of the English language intended to

    P. Gandara et al., “The Initial Impact of Proposition 227 on the Instruction of English Learners.” (2000).

                                                                                                                 GONZALEZ 3
provide two methods of instruction. First, ELD is devised to promote the acquisition of the

English-listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in students whose primary language is not

English. Secondly, ELD gives English language skills at a level that will allow equitable access

to the core curriculum for English learners, once they are presented with academic material.

There are five proficiency levels in the ELD program, beginning, early intermediate, early

advanced, and advanced. The idea is that the student will be assessed and then placed in their

respective ELD level when they are first enrolled in a public school in California. The student is

to complete a level every year. This research will mainly address the effectiveness of ELD

placement and examine, how a student gets placed. Sometimes a student may not be properly

placed in the ELD level, thus they may be too advanced or in a low level. In addition, the

teacher is the determinant of a student’s advancement to the next ELD level; often times teachers

will advance the student because they understand oral English, but the student cannot read or

write English at the level that is expected of them. In the case that the ELD student does not

make enough progress or does not complete the ELD program by the fifth grade, when the

student reaches middle school, the student will take English as a Second Language (ESL) classes

and will not have access to the college preparatory courses that will better prepare them to pursue

an higher education.

Literature Review:

       Since there is very little scholarly literature on the ELD program, I began most of my

search with information about understanding ELD and its curriculum. Much of the literature I

found regarding ELD was under ESL, bilingual education, and other English immersion

programs. Effective programs for students whose first language is not English are needed in this

country because “one out of four students in the public schools in California is an English

learner, but one out of three of the students in the elementary grades lacks proficiency in

English.” 5

          Many scholars of bilingual education agree that the “achievement gap between English

learners and their English—only counterparts can be attributed, in part, to a number of

inequitable conditions that affect their opportunities to learn…these students appear to receive a

significantly inferior educational experience, even when compared to other low-income students

in the public school system.” 6 Effective placement systems of statewide programs such as, ELD

are imperative for a student’s educational goals. A misdiagnosis can result in serious

consequences for example; even after the Diana v. California Board of Education, which was a

class action law suit in the interest of English learners inappropriately placed in special

education, the state of California still has not implemented the consent verdict to develop an

appropriate assessment for English learners which could result in the over diagnosis and

placement of such students in special education. California does not keep reliable data on the

numbers of English learner students that have been placed in special education (P. Gandara et al.,

31, 2003). Surprisingly, English learners are “over-represented in special education, particularly

in specific learning disabilities and language and speech impairment classes, especially at the

secondary grade level where language support is minimal.”7 Once, these students reach high

school, they are two times likelier to be identified as Mentally Retarded, and learning disabled.

 Rumberger, R. W., & Gandara, P. (2000). The Schooling of English Learners. In Burr, E., Hayward, G., & Kirst, M. (Eds.) Crucial Issues in
California Education (pp.23-44). Berkeley, CA: Policy Analysis for California Education.

 P. Gandara et al., “English learners in California schools: Unequal resources, unequal outcomes,” Education Policy Analysis Archives 11, no. 3
(2003): 13–14.

 Alfredo J. Artiles et al., “Within-Group Diversity in Minority Disproportionate Representation: English Language Learners in Urban School
Districts.,” Exceptional Children 71, no. 3 (Spring2005 2005): 283-300.

                                                                                                                         GONZALEZ 5
Since students are in the state of being “highly vulnerable-or having low proficiency in two

languages—is often a product of inadequate instruction, just as proficiency in at least one

language is the usual outcome of schooling and this is true for all children, regardless of their

ability level” (Alfredo J. Artiles et al. 2005). The fact that English language learners are being

misplaced in special education because they cannot speak proper English is a clear indicator that

the State of California does not care about its English immersion programs. It is also obvious

that the state does not prioritize education; this results in little or no investment in such

programs. It is important to investigate the effectiveness of such programs because they have the

responsibility of teaching students proper English.

          Many scholars agree that there are several problems with ELD program. One of the most

controversial problems with ELD is whether a separate block of time for oral English language

development would help student achievement. Some intellectuals believe that this separate time

block for ELD is beneficial for students because these student have higher word identification

scores as well as having higher letter-sound scores because it allows teachers to be more efficient

with their time and focus on English oral language objectives the reading objectives.8 Others

suggest that the separate block set for English learners is counterproductive because “the pull out

instruction” has been found to be among the least successful of instructional strategies for these

students” (P. Gandara et al., 2003). Regardless of the data that has been provided regarding this

pedagogical strategy, the content of the ELD block and program itself deserve attention from

highly prepared administrators and educators.

 William M. Saunders, Barbara R. Foorman, and Coleen D. Carlson, “Is a Separate Block of Time for Oral English Language Development in
Programs for English Learners Needed?,” Elementary School Journal 107, no. 2 (November 0, 2006): 181-199.

       Based on the research that I have found, it has become clear to me that trying to improve

the quality of education for English learners is a constant challenge. There are many barriers at

the school level, district level, and state level that prevent changes from occurring to such

programs. For instance, educators face difficulty accessing the curriculum due to the lack of

English vocabulary. Teachers also face the challenge of balancing English literacy instruction

and English oral language development instruction. Teachers that lack professional development

in teaching these programs, are not adequately prepared to teach English learners, as a result the

students are at risk of not properly learning English” (Saunders et al., 2006). This is why I

believe that researching the validity and real work of these programs is necessary, especially for

the ELD program because there is not a lot of literature on this program.

Research Design and Methods:

       The structure of this research paper will consist of an in-depth analysis of the ELD

placement system at the elementary school level through a comprehensive study of the survey

given to parents/guardians trying to enroll their child in a public school. Reasons for minority

underachievement and low rates of Latinos attending four-year institutions stem from the

elementary school level because students are misplaced in programs like ELD. If a student does

not complete all five levels by the time they are in the fifth grade, when these students reach

middle school, they will have to take ESL, which will hinder their options of taking college

readiness courses even in high school.

       The use of standardized-testing to test English learners language proficiency is prevalent

in the U.S. In big urban school districts in California, such as a classroom assessment, is used to

make “high-stake” decisions about an English leaners’ progress from one level to the next, as a

criteria for reclassifying students as Proficient English speakers. The California English

                                                                                     GONZALEZ 7
Language Development Test (CELDT) is a state mandated test that all school districts in

California are required to administer to students whose home language is not English. The parent

or guardian identifies the home language in the Language Survey section of the student

Enrollment Application, and if any of the questions are answered with a language other than

English, the CELDT test must be delivered. The purpose of the CELDT is to identify students

who are English Learners in Kindergarten through 12th grade, in order to document their English

proficiency. This exam is given each year until the student scores proficient in English.

Consequently, my research will analyze two take-home surveys that are given to parents or

guardians of a student by Cienega Elementary, one survey will be in English and another one

will be in Spanish. By doing this comparative analysis, I will examine the ways in which the

questions are phrased in both languages to see if there are any discrepancies in the ways in which

the survey asks certain questions in these two languages. Since I am a native Spanish speaker,

this task will be interesting and achievable for me; I will be able to understand and evaluate these

surveys in both languages. I am also interested to see if this survey is really capturing the

student’s true abilities in their native language because if a parent indicates any language other

than English, the student has to be assessed in that language; then they determine from these test

results if the student is literate enough in the foreign language or in English. Finally, the student

is classified as an English learner until they complete the ELD program. There are several

problems with this mode of testing a student; one of the problems is that the student might have

only learned how to speak his native language, and not necessarily learned how to read it or write

it; thus the student is illiterate in his native language.

        Another aspect that this study will explore the possible language barriers that the parents

themselves may have which in the end may impact the student’s placement in ELD. From the

teacher, I will also gather more information on the individual student’s performance on the

standardized tests they take once they have completed their ELD level, gathering this

information is difficult because I will have to obtain parental consent. I will go on the LAUSD

website to obtain these results. Another aspect that this study will encompass is access to

different surveys from different schools and produce a content analysis of these surveys to sees if

there is a difference in case these surveys vary by school.

          As for my data collection, the expected timetable for my research will be from mid-

November 2010 to early March 2011. Throughout this time, I will conduct my study at Cienega

Elementary School. Cienega Elementary is located in Los Angeles, California, this area is a

predominantly immigrant Latino community, the majority of the people in this community only

speak Spanish. According to 2008-09 demographics there are 601 Hispanic students enrolled in

Cienega Elementary, Hispanics currently make up 82.8% of the total student body. 9 I will

collect data from the city that is indicative of the percentage of different languages that are

spoken and the different ethnicities that occupy the surrounding area of this school to better

contextualize the schools location. The majority of the data that will be gathered will result from

the interviews that I will conduct with educators who teach ELD, school administrators, possibly

the students in ELD, and the student’s parents. As a Spanish speaking Latina I know that there

will not be a cultural barrier for me as I interview these parents, to ensure a more intimate

interview setting. Nevertheless, I hope that these parents will be open to participate in a scholarly

study because some of the individuals in this community have probably never encountered

participating in a scholarly investigation before. I will also complete an observational study of a

classroom with ELD students to observe the student, teacher interaction as well as the teacher’s

9 Ed-data website, Education Data Partnership, Fiscal, Demographic, and Performance Data on California’s K-12 Schools website, (accessed October 17, 2010).

                                                                                                                      GONZALEZ 9
pedagogical methods of teaching ELD students. This research will contribute to the As a

graduate of Cienega Elementary and a summer tutor, I have the advantage of personally knowing

some of the teachers in this school, thus gathering most of the information that I will need to

complete this project will be accessible to me. However, I still need to present the school with a

formal letter indicating that I will be conducting research at their institution because the students

that I will be observing are very young.


       Upon the completion of my research, I expect to not only learn more about the ELD

program itself, but also learn the intricacies of the ELD placement system. I hope to get a deeper

understanding of the placement system and assess its effectiveness in its students who greatly

need to learn English to be thriving citizens in this country. I am still unsure of the outcomes

that this research will present, but I anticipate that my results will lead me to understand the

some of core reasons for Latino underachievement in higher education. Since the ELD has not

been revised since 1999, these results may indicate that the administration may be complying

with these tasks mechanically because their expectations have been the same for over ten years.

Since I will complete most of my observational research in Cienega Elementary School, I may

encounter specific cases in which a student may have been placed in an inappropriate ELD level.

I will analyze the reason that this may have happened to this student by first getting a hold of the

survey that these parents had to fill out to enroll their child in this school. By meeting with the

ELD coordinator of the school, I will be able to see if there were any specific barriers that the

ELD testers faced in placing that student. As I mentioned before, educational policies like ELD

are important to the educational system because of the large influx of immigrants to this country.


Artiles, Alfredo J., Robert Rueda, Jesús José Salazar, and Ignacio Higareda. 2005. Within-Group
Diversity in Minority Disproportionate Representation: English Language Learners in Urban
School Districts. Exceptional Children 71, no. 3 (Spring2005): 283-300. doi:Article.

Ed-data website, Education Data Partnership, Fiscal, Demographic, and Performance Data on
California’s K-12 Schools website, (accessed
October 17, 2010).

Gandara, P., J. Maxwell-Jolly, E. Garcia, J. Asato, K. Gutierrez, T. Stritikus, and J. Curry. 2000.
The Initial Impact of Proposition 227 on the Instruction of English Learners.

Gandara, P., R. Rumberger, J. Maxwell-Jolly, and R. Callahan. 2003. English learners in
California schools: Unequal resources, unequal outcomes. Education Policy Analysis Archives
11, no. 3: 13–14.

Llanos, Connie. "More English-language learners at LAUSD, state test shows - LA Daily News."
Home - LA Daily News. (accessed October 16,

Rumberger, R. W., & Gandara, P. (2000). The Schooling of English Learners. In Burr, E.,
Hayward, G., & Kirst, M. (Eds.) Crucial Issues in California Education (pp.23-44). Berkeley,
CA: Policy Analysis for California Education.

Saunders, William M., Barbara R. Foorman, and Coleen D. Carlson. 2006. Is a Separate Block of
Time for Oral English Language Development in Programs for English Learners Needed?
Elementary School Journal 107, no. 2 (November 0): 181-199.

Suarez-Orozco, C., and M. M Suarez-Orozco. 1995. Transformations: Immigration, family life,
and achievement motivation among Latino adolescents. Stanford Univ Pr.

                                                                                    GONZALEZ 1
Low test scores and low graduation rates have plagued the district’s population of ELs. Is the
district denying ELs educational opportunities?

Intro to ELD: A student is classified as remedial if they do not demonstrate English proficiency
in the state tests, if a student is able to test out of this program then they will eventually have
access to honors and college preparatory classes, which will then limit the student’s chances of
attending a four-year institution or to be accurately prepared when they do attend college. Often
times students from inner-cities schools are not effectively prepared because many of them are
reading at an 8th grade level when they enter college. This phenomenon is evident of the
achievement gap that stems from their placement of ELD in the first place.

Since 2005 the district has set aside an hour of every six-hour day to focus on building English
skills for students. (elaborate w/ “Is a Separate Block of Time for Oral English Language…)

*office of data and accountability

Arizona Article:
   1. How is the 4-hour block being implemented?
   2. What are the benefits of the 4-hour ELD block for students and for schools?
   3. What are the concerns about implementing the 4-hour ELD block?


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