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English Learners (ELs) are the fastest growing population of public school students in the US. Close to 6 million ELs are enrolled in public schools, an increase of more than 100 percent since 1911. MAEC has a proven record of providing support to address the needs for ELs. Our services include conducting needs assessments, goal setting in collaboration with clients, technical assistance, training, coaching, and project evaluation. Our staff provides research-based approaches to improve the overall educational outcomes for ELs.

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Community Resource Mapping – English Learners

MAEC uses a strengths-based approach for asset mapping, since often the best solutions come from within the communities in which our districts/schools reside. These key stakeholders include districts, schools, communities, and families all who are seeking to increase student achievement. To this end, MAEC conducts community walks and community resource mapping to identify potential partners and allies for effective and efficient delivery of services. This process includes attention to alignment between district and school needs and priorities so together partners can build the social and human capital that will help students and staff thrive.

Comprehensive Needs Assessment – English Learners

Beginning with a disaggregated data analysis of student achievement, student discipline, and school climate, MAEC is able to effectively determine client strengths and areas of need. This collaborative inquiry approach enables MAEC to examine multiple sources of data. Using a culturally responsive and equity framework, further creates opportunities to develop operational action plans to tackle complex challenges that pose barriers to gains in student achievement.

Culturally Responsive Family, School, and Community Engagement – English Learners

A family is a child’s first teacher. When families’ partner with schools and community organizations, children thrive. To produce the best results for students, MAEC builds the capacity of families, educators, schools, and community organizations to collaborate, exchange ideas, and develop and implement policies and action plans. We build on the collaborative strengths of families, educators, and community members so they can each contribute to the development and success of diverse students.

Culturally Responsive Leadership – English Learners

Leaders set the tone and expectations of any organization. They do this by responding effectively to the diverse communities that they serve, being asset-focused, and proactive problem solvers. Culturally responsive leadership technical assistance provides a multi-dimensional framework that builds capacity of educators who are culturally informed and highly skilled in culturally responsive practice.

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy – English Learners

Culturally responsive pedagogy is a method and practice of teaching in which educators and providers build on the assets that their students and families bring into the classroom. As the populations of our students grow more diverse, staff must be better prepared to respond to their needs. This requires a greater understanding and knowledge of their students’ culture, strengths, and socio-political contexts. With this practice, schools can become hubs of learning focused on the well being of the students and families being served.

Policy & Procedural Reviews – English Learners

In educational systems, policies and procedures often inform practice. However, some policies or procedures may have unintended consequences when implemented that serve to further silo organizational efforts to close opportunity gaps. To address this challenge, MAEC provides state departments, districts, schools, and organizations with policy and procedural reviews to ensure they are equitable, effective, and comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

Ensuring Educational Equity for English Learners

Under Title VI and Title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, school districts are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, and national origin. This training highlights the requirements regarding the provision of services for ELs with an emphasis on the identification, placement, provision of alternative programs for ELs, access to challenging content, and assessment. Legal rights of parents/guardians are also included as part of MAC’s training.

Navigating the School System for Families of English Learners

This training helps build the capacity of parent involvement coordinators, Title I & Title III specialists, and community leaders to effectively engage families of English Learners in their children’s education. The training focuses on: (1) Creating welcoming schools and classrooms; (2) Considerations for engagement of immigrant families; (3) Linking family engagement to learning; and (4) Models for effectively engaging EL families in their children’s education.

Working Effectively with English Learners

This training helps build the capacity of administrators and staff to design and implement effective programs to meet the needs of English Learners. MAC’s training highlights the cultural context of English Learners, the levels of English proficiency needed for academic success, how to effectively teach Common Core and/or challenging content to ELs, and strategies for creating inclusive schools and classrooms.

Office of the State Superintendent of Education

MAEC partners with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) for the District of Columbia to ensure that English Learners gain academic and language proficiency to prepare them to be global leaders.  MAEC staff sits on the Title III Advisory Council and provides the following technical assistance:

  • Development of an adapted monitoring tool to assess Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) services to English Learners;
  • Analysis of initial monitoring results and revised action plans to support LEAs in the delivery of EL services; and
  • Provide key findings and recommendations based on the results of monitoring.
This targeted technical assistance resulted in a comprehensive Title III Monitoring Process as a way to review how LEAs are developing and implementing Title III programs in accordance to federal, state, and local regulations and identify LEAs in need of support.  In addition, MAEC’s involvement in the Title III Advisory Council resulted in the development of an informational multilingual video about the rights of English Learners and their families in the District’s schools. This user friendly video has been produced in English and Spanish with subtitles in Amharic, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and French.

¡Adelante! Moving Forward!

A Guide to Empower Parents of English Learners to Advocate for their Children A joint project of MAEC & the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Adelante cover imageIn 2010, approximately five million students in the United States were identified as English Learners (ELs). These students have different levels of English proficiency and number of years of formal education. While this growing number of ELs represents a considerable challenge, it is the responsibility of schools to ensure that ELs have equal access to quality education that enables them to progress academically while learning English. Currently there is a substantial body of legislation, Title III of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which protects the rights of these students. Unfortunately, many parents of ELs are not aware of these laws and therefore cannot advocate for their children. ¡Adelante! Moving Forward! A Guide to Empower Parents of ELs to Advocate for their Children is designed as an informational training tool to provide trainers of immigrant parents and parent leaders with user friendly and accessible information regarding the legal responsibilities of educational agencies serving ELs and the rights of parents of ELs. View the Table of Contents for ¡Adelante! Request a free copy of this publication. [gravityform id="16" title="false" description="false"]

Post Image Bio-Social-Emotional Needs of Immigrant Students, with a Focus on Central Americans

Part of CEE’s Exploring Equity Issues series, this paper discusses social and emotional learning (SEL) and the special challenges faced by immigrant students in this area. For immigrant students, the challenge of SEL is compounded by their simultaneous navigation of social and academic displacement, trauma, and family reunification. The paper concludes with both school-wide and teacher strategies that respond to immigrant student needs.  

Bio-Social-Emotional Needs of Immigrant Students, with a Focus on Central Americans

Written by Beth Hood, LCSW-C ESOL Intervention Specialist, High Point High School, Beltsville, MD

Background

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process by which individuals learn to understand and manage their emotions, maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. For immigrant students, this process holds additional challenges, as they learn these skills while also navigating complex emotional reactions to social and academic displacement, trauma, and family reunification. “I am from El Salvador. My uncle, brother and I decided to come to the U.S. because the gangs were threatening us. One of my friends was killed. On the way here we were kidnapped in Mexico and held for three months until a ransom was sent. There was another man with us who had all five of his fingers on one hand cut off by the kidnappers, and then they stabbed him to death right in front of my brother and I. Once we got to the border, we were caught by ICE and my uncle was sent back home. I saw a counselor when I first got here, and now I don’t have nightmares anymore.”

HISTORY OF IMMIGRATION AND CURRENT TRENDS

Immigration to the United States from Central America has long been driven by economic difficulties and violence. In the last four decades, these countries have experienced civil wars, crippling poverty, increased gang violence and narco-trafficking, and disintegration of civil structures. According to World Atlas statistics, since 2014 El Salvador and Honduras have been named as countries with the highest murder rates that are not at war. Children are either targeted for recruitment into an expansive network of gang activity or are living under their threat. Consequently, the flow of children entering the United States has increased as they seek safety. These children do not have refugee status, but rather must independently find and fund legal counsel. Without such assistance, they risk being deported to the countries they fled. From the years 2013-2015, the Migration Policy Institute reported a spike in Central American unaccompanied minors crossing the Mexican border into the United States, totaling 77,000 during this period. High Point High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland, currently has the largest numbers of ESOL students in the state. The total 2017-2018 ESOL enrollment thus far has topped 1,200 students. With increased anxiety over changing immigration policies, ESOL students are withdrawing or transferring to other schools at unseen rates; over 400 ESOL students have withdrawn from High Point this academic year. Students report that they are receiving deportation and voluntary departure notices, are re-locating to more affordable housing, or are choosing to work in order to prepare for a return to their home country, in spite of the safety risks.

BIO-SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL NEEDS

Newcomer immigrant students place particular demands on school staff, not only for specialized instructional interventions, but for social and mental health supports as well. Improving instruction requires awareness of intercultural communication and appropriate responses to students exposed to trauma, family loss, uncertain legal future, and cultural adjustment. Immigrant children are more likely to face numerous risks to healthy development (Close & Solberg, 2008). Biological needs to consider include access to health care and immunizations, interruption of eating/sleeping patterns, pre-existing health conditions, and the impact of chronic stress and trauma on the body. Limited exposure to sun and physical exercise also take their toll on newcomer immigrants from countries where most of their daily life took place outdoors. Social needs for belonging within their academic community cannot be overstated. A study of Latino students in the United States confirmed that students who felt more connected with their teachers and their school were also more motivated to attend school, which was in turn associated with better achievement (Close and Solberg, 2008). Newcomer students need opportunities to build relationships with their new peers, experience success in their new language and school, and begin the long task of attachment at home with biological parents or caretakers who may be virtual strangers. Newcomer students also need assistance with acculturation and orientation regarding school procedures, U.S. education norms, legal requirements such as attendance and immunization, and community resource information on low-cost health care and legal services. The students need an opportunity to understand that their culture shock, adjustment, and challenging relationships with unfamiliar family members in the context of time – that their current emotional state, be it stress, depression or anger, is temporary. In 2016, High Point conducted an anonymous survey of 294 newcomer students from Central America to help understand the scope of their social-emotional needs. Responses revealed that 52% had experienced gang/community violence in their home countries or on their journey to the United States, 35% had interrupted education, 45% had a loved one die in the previous year, 37% reported experiencing insomnia or nightmares regularly, and 79% reported a need for legal counseling. As trauma research has documented, children who have experienced trauma, fear, separation from family, and isolation are subject to a variety of psychological stressors and mental health challenges. Studies have shown some develop anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other conditions. Once in the United States, these students continue to worry about family members and friends who remain in their country; family members become ill, friends are murdered, relatives disappear. Trauma can cause interrupted sleep, poor concentration, anger/aggression, physical pain and/or social withdrawal. Trauma also can interfere with attention, memory, and cognition – all skills that are fundamental in learning.

What Can We Do?

SCHOOL-WIDE INTERVENTIONS

Provide staff training on behaviors to watch for. School-wide interventions begin with training staff so educators are familiar with the geo-political causes of immigration, and the impacts of trauma. Staff training is necessary in order to understand and interpret behaviors a student may exhibit during their adjustment period – be it silence, disorganization, or disengagement. Provide immigrant students with specialized orientation. School staff can also provide a sense of safety to students and facilitate mastery of their new surroundings through teaching expectations and routines with visual reminders, supporting a culture of respect, and correcting with warm firmness. Bilingual orientation guides help with the task of mastery. These guides may include: a map of the school; information on community resources; important staff to know; websites and apps that can support English language learning; school procedures regarding code of conduct, absences, library use, and inclement weather policies; tips for managing culture shock; and strategies for building trust with new family members. Bilingual social work and family support staff are vital. School staff must also help newcomer students be aware of gang activity. Unaccompanied minors in particular are at an increased risk for recruitment either at school or in their communities. Students need to know the methods for recruitment (intimidation, skipping parties, drug trafficking), refusal techniques, and school staff who can support them.

TEACHER INTERVENTIONS

As teachers, we can draw on the research and interventions for trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive learning environments to respond to immigrant student needs. Marlene Wong of the Support for Students Exposed to Trauma program has designed school-based curriculum to support school-wide understanding and interventions to mitigate the impact of past trauma. All the best instructional techniques we have will depend on the student’s availability to engage with and learn from us. This need to belong has long been recognized as one of the most important psychological needs in humans (Maslow, 1943). Hence, our most essential tool in engaging with all youth, especially youth with traumatic histories, is ourselves – our warm, caring, dependable, steady, relational, limit-setting selves. As educators and support staff, we provide this necessary positive mirroring and a belief that students’ resilience is stronger than their challenges. Use mindfulness techniques in the classroom. Resiliency and post-trauma growth research emphasizes the need for students to learn emotional regulation, how to relate positively to others, and how to reason through challenges. Mindfulness techniques and grounding exercises can help students by teaching an awareness of their body and their mind in the present moment. Using five minutes of class on a routine bases for check-ins related to self-awareness (emotional state, physical and cognitive energy), deep breathing techniques, guided meditation, and simple movements to stimulate or calm the brain are all skills that students can learn in order to regulate their mind and body. These exercises can change the energy of the student and the energy in the classroom. Engage in classroom community building. The circle process is another method for strengthening classroom community and enhancing self-efficacy. Using one or two prompts and inviting students to respond provides an opportunity to build connections and normalize their experiences of adjustment. In addition, invite older student leaders who have lived through similar experiences, to share their challenges and successes with newcomer students. Given the changes in immigration policies specifically towards Central American students and families, we are likely to see an increase in anxiety-related and depressive behaviors. This could be manifested by poor attendance, self-harm and suicidal ideation, increased drug use, and dropping out of school. As caring educators, we need to know the daily realities of our students and how we can best address their needs, to support what they most desire – a safe and better life for themselves and their families. RESOURCES   REFERENCES Blaustein, M., & Kinniburgh, K. M. (2010). Treating traumatic stress in children and adolescents: How to foster resilience through attachment, self-regulation, and competency. New York: Guilford Press. Boyes-Watson, C., & Pranis, K. (2015). Circle forward: Building a restorative school community. St. Paul, MN: Living Justice Press. Close, W., & Solberg, S. (2008). Predicting achievement, distress, and retention among lower-income Latino youth. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 72(1), 31-42. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2007.08.007 Eccles, J. S., & Roeser, R. W. (2011). Schools as Developmental Contexts During Adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21(1), 225-241. doi:10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00725.x Maslow A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychol. Rev., 50 370–396. \10.1037/h0054346 National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) home: Part of the U.S. Department of Education (ED). (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2018, from https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/ Pariona, A. (2016, September 28). Murder Rate By Country. Retrieved March 21, 2018, from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/murder-rates-by-country.html What is SEL? (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2018, from https://casel.org/what-is-sel/  

Download: Exploring Equity - Bio-Social-Emotional Needs of Immigrant Students

Post Image Collaborative Inquiry and English Learners

This piece, part of our Addressing Critical Issues series, introduces collaborative inquiry and provides examples of how diverse groups of educators have shown the impact of using it to improve the performance of English Learners.

Download: Collaborative Inquiry and ELs

Post Image Cultural Validity in Assessment

Part of MAEC’s Boosting Success for 21st Century Learners Webinar Series, this webinar shares lessons learned from research and field experiences, illustrated by apt and eye-opening examples of how the failure to consider students' contexts in designing assessments and assessment practices can result in wrong conclusions about student learning. This session was originally held on March 16, 2012. Presenters: 

  • Guillermo Solano Flores, Assoc. Professor, Bilingual Education and ESL, Univ. of Colorado Boulder
  • Elise Trumbull, Independent Consultant, Oakland, California
  • Maria del Rosario Basterra, Deputy Director, The Mid-Atlantic Equity Center
Description: Are assessments fair and valid for all students? How can we determine if assessment results are a true reflection of a student's knowledge? Presenters Basterra, Flores, and Trumbull will discuss findings and illustrate the concept of "culturally valid assessment" from their book, Cultural Validity in Assessment: Addressing Linguistic and Cultural Diversity. This approach takes into consideration students' socio-cultural backgrounds, educational experience, home language, communication style, and how they learn. Learning Outcomes. Learning Outcomes:
  • Understand the concept of cultural validity and its relevance to today's assessment
  • Recognize how cognition, language, and culture have an impact on assessment performance
  • Identify potential assessment sources of misinformation about student learning
  • Learn how to use and implement culturally valid assessments in the classroom.
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Post Image Effective Strategies for Educating Immigrant Girls

This piece, part of our Addressing Critical Equity Issues series, discusses several of the hurdles that immigrant girls must overcome as they strive to achieve in our public schools and gives strategies for educators on how to help them.

Download: Effective Strategies for Educating Immigrant Girls

Post Image Engaging Families of English Learners

This piece,  part of our Addressing Critical Equity Issues series, discusses some of the barriers that families of English Learners face that make interactions at school challenging and provides promising practices to help address them.  Download Engaging Families of English Learners.

Download: Engaging Families of English Learners

Post Image English Learners & Disproportionality in Special Education

This piece, part of our Addressing Critical Equity Issues series, discusses the overrepresentation of English Learners (ELs) in special education classes and provides promising practices to address it.

Download: English Learners & Disproportionality in Special Education

Post Image Facilitating Family-School Partnerships: Engaging Immigrant and English Learner Families in their Children’s Learning

The families of immigrant students face multiple challenges in partnering with schools regarding their children’s learning and in improvement efforts. Educators can assist immigrant families to develop the skills necessary to more effectively navigate the American public school system. First and foremost, schools must create a welcoming environment that encourages EL and immigrant families to engage in their children’s learning and build shared decision-making. Schools must also encourage these families to play a broader part in designing and implementing new reform and restructuring strategies. This webinar provides tools and strategies for engaging EL and immigrant families in their children’s learning from state, district, school, community-based, and family-led organization perspectives. Learning Outcomes In this webinar participants:

  • Gain knowledge about the Stages of Immigrant Parent Involvement Framework” which provides educators with an understanding of the diverse needs of families of English Learners
  • Learn about specific engagement strategies that states, districts, and schools can use to effectively create family-school partnerships to improve student learning.
  • Understand the advantages of, and gain skills, for partnering with immigrant, community-based, and family-led organizations that have developed trusting relationships with families from diverse backgrounds to increase engagement in their children’s learning.
Presenters
  • Diana Autin, Executive Co-Director, Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN)
  • Young-Chan Han, Family Involvement Specialist Division of Student, Family, and School Support, Maryland State Department of Education
  • Jennifer Love, Family Engagement Specialist, Office of Interpreting and Translation/Office of Diversity, Prince George’s County Public Schools
Download Facilitating Family-School Partnerships (PDF) View the online recorded presentation  

Post Image Promoting a Safe and Welcoming Environment for Immigrant Students

  Part of CEE's Exploring Equity Issues series, this paper gives a background on the challenges faced by immigrant and EL students in public schools and provides strategies on what schools can do to make their schools more welcoming.

Download: Exploring Equity - Welcoming Environment for Immigrant Students

Post Image Using the ELD 2.0 Framework to Improve Instructional Programs for ELLs

Part of MAEC’s Boosting Success for 21st Century Learners Webinar Series, presenters in this webinar discuss the Framework for Raising Expectations and Instructional Rigor for English Language Learners and how the School District of Philadelphia has used this framework, dubbed ELD 2.0, to clarify the goals and re-design their instructional program for ELLs. This session was originally held on April 22, 2015. Presenters: 

  • Debra Hopkins, ELL Project Coordinator, Council for Great City Schools
  • Gabriela Uro, Director ELL Policy and Research, Council for Great City Schools
  • Allison W. Still, Deputy Chief, Office of Multilingual Curriculum and Programs, School District of Philadelphia
  • Erica Darken, Curriculum Development Specialists, Office of Multilingual Curriculum and Programs, School District of Philadelphia
Description: In this webinar you will learn about the Framework for Raising Expectations and Instructional Rigor for English Language Learners and how the School District of Philadelphia has used this framework, dubbed ELD 2.0, to clarify the goals and re-design their instructional program for ELLs. Learning Outcomes:
  • Understand the theory of action of the Framework that calls for higher expectations for ELLs;
  • Understand the components of the Framework and its application to district planning for ELLs;
  • and Understand the criteria for selecting instructional materials for ELLs.
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