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Seizing the Opportunity to Narrow the Achievement Gap for English Learners: Research-based Recommendations for the Use of LCFF Funds

Authors: Patricia Gándara, Maria Estela Zárate
Date Published: September 10, 2014

This guidance provides recommendations organized according to the state’s 8 Local Control Accountability Plan priorities outlined in Local Control Funding Formula. Importantly, the recommendations are culled from the research on English learners and the tool includes expanded descriptions of the recommendations, related research summaries with citations, and metrics for tracking the implementation of these recommendations.
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Executive Summary

The new state funding formula (LCFF ) provides an unprecedented opportunity to innovate and reshape the way schools address the educational needs of English learners. However it is critical that funds be spent carefully on interventions that are supported by solid research. The following recommendations are organized according to the state’s 8 Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) priorities and are culled from the research on English learners.  Clearly no school or district can adopt all or probably even most of the recommendations with current funding and in the short run, rather this should be seen as a menu of research-based options. Schools and districts must set their own priorities. There are no silver bullets in education but the research tells us that, on balance, the options recommended here provide the best odds of making a significant difference for the education of EL students.  

Has your Local Control Accountability Plan delivered on the promise of improved services for English Learner students?  To help answer this question and guide the program implementation, a coalition of organizations has created a rubric for public use.


1.1. Use resources to attract highly effective, fully credentialed bilingual teachers.

1.2 Provide full-day kindergarten where it does not now exist, and preschool to the extent possible.

1.3 Provide extended learning time.

1.4. Increase social workers, parent liaisons, nurses, counselors, psychologists, and librarians with specialization in books about the cultures and in the languages of the students, and who to the extent possible, are bilingual.

1.5.  Provide library books, consumables, and other supplementary materials that can be used at home with parents, in the language of the parents whenever possible.

1.6. Ensure adequate nutrition during school hours.


 2.1. Conduct needs assessment of teachers, administrators, and instructional support staff, including on-campus after school program providers, to identify critical professional development needs. 

2.2. Build strong infrastructure for professional development of teachers, administrators, and school-based after school program providers 

2.3. Provide professional development around the implementation of the Common Core State Standards for English Learners, specifically, and how to align these with ELD standards. 


3.1. Increase bilingual personnel (or bilingual skills of existing personnel), especially front office staff, teachers and counselors, regardless of type of language program provided.

3.2. Use bilingual parent liaisons to develop links between the community and school.  

3.3. Provide parent empowerment, advocacy, and family literacy programs in schools serving English Learners.

3.4. Broaden the representation of EL parents in school decision-making.  

3.5. Fully fund District English Learner Advisory Committees (DELAC/ELAC) committees.

3.6. In teacher evaluations or reviews, include the ways in which they integrate, accommodate, and seek ELs’ parental participation.


4.1. Establish bilingual and two-way dual language programs where a critical mass of parents of EL students (and others) request such a program

4.2. Assess and report outcomes in both English and the native language if ELs are currently or have recently received instruction in the native language, and if valid instruments are available in that language.

4.3. Monitor reclassification rates for schools and districts, but student academic progress as EL and as reclassified EL (R-FEP) should be the primary measure of success, not rates of reclassification alone.  

4.4. Train personnel to evaluate transcripts from non-U.S. schools so that students can be accurately placed and receive credit for courses taken and passed outside the U.S.


5.1. Link every EL student to at least one extra-curricular activity of his or her choice. 

5.2. Integrate EL students with academically successful non-ELs for at least part of every day.

5.3. Through professional development for both faculty and staff, dispel stereotypes about the academic potential of EL students.


6.1. Incorporate innovative measures to reduce racial, socio-economic, and linguistic segregation among students. 

6.2. Increase awareness of and prevent practices and incidents that create a hostile or exclusionary environment for EL students.


7.1. Ensure EL students have full access to rigorous academic content in all core content areas and enrichment courses.

7.2. Ensure access to the full range of college preparatory courses or course content at the middle and high school level for EL students.

7.3. Provide EL and reclassified (R-FEP) students the option of taking an extra year to complete graduation requirements and/or a college preparatory curriculum.

7.4. Provide ongoing monitoring and support for R-FEP students as they transition to mainstream classrooms.  


8.1. Establish a differentiated process for identifying EL students for special education.

8.2. Ensure access to training in the use of computers and other technologies for EL students

8.3.  Provide career and college planning guidance geared to EL’s needs.


Aprovechando la Oportunidad de Disminuir la Brecha en el Desempeño para los Aprendices de Inglés:
Recomendaciones Basadas en Investigaciones para el Uso de Fondos LCFF


La nueva fórmula de financiamiento del estado (LCFF1por sus siglas en inglés) brinda una oportunidad sin precedentes para innovar y remodelar la manera en que las escuelas atienden las necesidades educativas de los aprendices de inglés. Sin embargo, es importante que los fondos se utilicen cuidadosamente en intervenciones que estén respaldadas por investigaciones sólidas. Las siguientes recomendaciones están organizadas de acuerdo a las 8 prioridades LCAP2 del estado y han sido seleccionadas de las investigaciones sobre aprendices de inglés. Claramente, ninguna escuela o distrito escolar puede adoptar todas, ni aún la mayoría de las recomendaciones con el financiamiento actual y en el corto plazo, esto más bien debería ser visto como un menú de opciones basadas en la investigación. Las escuelas y distritos deben establecer sus propias prioridades. No hay soluciones mágicas en educación pero la investigación nos muestra que, a final de cuentas, las opciones aquí recomendadas nos brindan las mayores posibilidades para poder cambiar las cosas de manera significativa en la educación de los aprendices del inglés. (El reporte completo de políticas, que viene a continuación, incluye descripciones ampliadas de las recomendaciones, resúmenes de investigaciones relacionadas, con citas e indicadores para dar seguimiento a la implementación de estas recomendaciones).


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