These papers, presented at the Understanding Language Conference in January 2012, address language and literacy issues found in the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. A summary of the conference is provided below.

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Instruction for Diverse Groups of ELLs

Authors: 
Aída Walqui and Margaret Heritage

The population of English language learners is enormously diverse. Teachers face the complex challenge of providing them with opportunities that allow them to attain the Common Core State Standards despite their various needs and abilities. 

Critical Policy Levers for Effective Implementation of Common Core State Standards for ELLs

Authors: 
Delia Pompa and Kenji Hakuta

This paper argues that the heightened expectations around language in the new standards pose major challenges for all students who engage with rich academic content, especially English language learners (ELLs).

The authors make five policy recommendations designed to give ELLs the educational supports necessary to meet the new higher standards:

Issues and Opportunities in Improving the Quality of Large Scale Assessment Systems for ELLs

Authors: 
Jamal Abedi and Robert Linquanti

This paper outlines and addresses fundamental issues in assessing English Language Learners (ELLs), including “construct-irrelevant” factors that add unnecessary difficulty to tests, as well as uses of summative versus formative assessment. The paper also highlights assessment innovations relevant to ELLs, discussing their promise and potential pitfalls.

Online Community for Teachers of ELLs

Authors: 
Robert Lucas and John Willinsky

This paper recommends strategies for cultivating—as opposed to centrally planning—an online community that supports the goals of Understanding Language, beginning with the assumption that technological development should serve the needs and shared goals of community members.

Teacher Development Appropriate to Support ELLs

Authors: 
María Santos, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Tina Cheuk

This paper outlines strategies to prepare teachers to better meet the needs of English Language Learners (ELLs). New academic and language demands placed on students will require the development of new skills among teachers and school leaders.