Educational Testing Service

March 23, 2010 08:46 ET

ETS Research Aims to Improve the Teaching of English-Language Learners

PRINCETON, NJ--(Marketwire - March 23, 2010) - Educational Testing Service (ETS) recently was awarded a grant for a project called, A Technology-Rich Teacher Professional Development Intervention that Supports Content-based Curriculum Development for English Language Learners.

ETS will tap its automated text analysis capabilities to develop a web-based professional development package for teachers that will help them prepare accessible materials to facilitate content comprehension, language skills and reading comprehension of English-language learners (ELLs).

The U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is funding the three-year, $1.49 million project.

To develop and evaluate the feasibility of the online package, ETS will work with in-service teachers enrolled in courses offered by George Washington and Stanford universities. The professional development part of the effort will provide teachers with teaching strategies targeting the diverse learning needs of ELLs. The instructional authoring component will allow teachers to apply linguistic insight gained from the professional development component to pedagogically adapt classroom texts and instructional materials to fit learner needs.

Jill Burstein, the ETS researcher leading the effort, says, "Students whose first language is not English often do not have the academic language proficiency, literacy skills and background knowledge to succeed in U.S. classrooms. This creates an achievement gap especially for the English-language learners who enter the system beyond elementary school when the emphasis switches from learning to read to reading to learn."

"The population of English-language learners is growing in our schools at a pace in which it is exceeding the number of teachers with the instructional training that can meet the needs of this group of students," Burstein adds. "This effort is a step toward providing teachers with the strategies and tools to help this growing population."

ETS Senior Vice President for Research & Development Ida Lawrence agrees, "Helping to support English-language learners is an important focus for ETS. We are very happy that the IES considers our efforts in this area as being worthy of support."

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