In this occasional series, Understandig Language releases policy statements clarifying our position in important issues related to the new Standards and Language and learning.


At the recent AERA annual conference in San Francisco, Margaret Heritage, Aida Walqui, and Robert Linquanti wrote "Formative Assessment As Contingent Teaching and Learning: Perspectives on Assessment As and For Language Learning in the Content Areas".  This paper builds on our prior work from the past 18 months with a specific focus on the classroom-centered practices of formative assessment -- and, on how formative assessment can support contingent teaching and learning for English Language Learners.

This paper first defines formative assessment and discusses how its practice is implemented in the classroom by both teachers and students. Then, the authors explore developing teacher expertise to engage in formative assessment in the education of ELLs in an era of new standards. Lastly, the authors examine how educational policymakers can foster use of formative assessment practice by teachers of ELLs.

The Understanding Language District Engagement subcommittee has developed a set of six key principles for instruction that helps ELLs meet the rigorous, grade level academic standards found in the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. These principles are meant to guide teachers, coaches, ELL specialists, curriculum leaders, school principals, and district administrators as they work to develop standards-aligned instruction. The principles are applicable to any type of instruction regardless of grade, proficiency level, or program type.

The Institute for Education Sciences recently announced a new program in Continuous Improvement Research in Education, to begin in 2014. IES has also requested comment on the program, which is divided into three proposed areas of investigation. Understanding Language commends this initiative and suggests adding a fourth, complementary line of research on the role of language in content-area classrooms. For our full comment, please see the document attached below.

To ensure students' linguistic, cognitive, and academic potential is realized, state English language proficiency (ELP) standards must align with and support development of the language capacities found in the new content standards. This brief discusses the implications for designing appropriately aligned next-generation ELP standards, assessments, and instruction.

In January 2012, over 60 researchers, policy makers, practitioners, and educational leaders gathered on the campus of Stanford University for the Understanding Language conference. Bringing cross-disciplinary expertise in language, content area learning, and assessments, they convened to discuss the implications of the Common Core State Standards for the success of English Language Learners. This brief presents a summary of the conference.

We know the best research evidence indicates that instructing ELL students bilingually strengthens their academic content knowledge and skills. This brief discusses the implications of the Common Core for bilingual education.