The process of closing achievement gaps in the state is key to ensuring equitable educational opportunities and success beyond high school for all Michigan students. MDE has recognized the significance of the achievement gap for African-American males and ELs and has instituted programs to address those gaps.
English Learners. The EL component of this project is an extension of previous MDE and GLCC work, which included the following: EL statewide strategic plan development, the training of regional trainers in the Sheltered Instruction Observational Protocol, and the development of guidelines titled “What’s Different About Teaching Reading and Writing to ELs?” On March 17, 2015, Shereen Tabrizi, Ph.D., the manager of the Special Populations Unit at MDE, told MSBE that data show formerly limited English proficient students are making incremental but steady progress in mathematics and ELA state achievement scores, at times performing better than native English speakers. Dr. Tabrizi suggested that the improvements resulted from the increased trainings for teachers during the past five years.
With hundreds of teachers now trained throughout the state and multiple cohorts of coaches, MDE began to consider ELs with disabilities in Year 3 of the technical assistance plan. In the fall and winter, MDE identified a writing team that wrote drafts of the Guidance Handbook for Educators of Students Who Are English Language Learners With Suspected Disabilities. MDE and GLCC finalized the guidance handbook in August 2015 and plan to focus in 2015–16 on disseminating the handbook to schools, districts, teachers, and administrators.
African-American Males. In Year 3, work focused on providing technical assistance to MDE’s AAYMPI and expanding the initiative beyond the pilot stage. GLCC codeveloped and introduced the Achievement Resource Center, a web portal of resources for LEAs. This portal provides resources on closing achievement gaps and the new MDE Alternatives to Suspension and Expulsion Toolkit. GLCC participated in planning the MDE African-American Young Men in Michigan conference, which was held August 4–5, 2015, to launch the third year of the AAYMPI pilot. GLCC also brought GLEC Director Seena Skelton, Ph.D., to Michigan to introduce MDE and GLCC staff to the GLEC Policy Equity Analysis Tool. Year 4 will focus on building MDE and LEA capacity to train trainers in LEAs to analyze existing discipline and attendance practices and policies with an equity lens and explore the use of MSBE-approved Model Policy on Alternatives to Suspension and Expulsion, the Model Code of Student Conduct, and the Alternatives to Suspension and Expulsion Toolkit to address inequities.
Progress to Date: GLCC…
- Codeveloped a three-year strategic plan for Title III to guide its work in increasing the achievement of ELs.
- Codeveloped the 80-page Guidance Handbook for Educators of Students Who Are English Language Learners With Suspected Disabilities.
- Codeveloped the Model Policy on Alternatives to Suspension and Expulsion, the Model Code of Student Conduct, and the Alternatives to Suspension and Expulsion Toolkit.
- Implemented train-the-trainer workshops about how ELs learn to read and write differently from their native English-speaking peers.
- Provided MDE with an analysis of state data and supported the MDE achievement gap core team in using data to develop a state strategy to close the achievement gap for African-American males.
- Synthesized research to inform MDE’s development of the achievement gap three-year pilot (AAYMPI).
- Developed a compilation of research-based information on a web portal for SEAs, ISDs, schools, and districts to support their work to close the achievement gaps.
- Introduced MDE staff to the GLEC Policy Equity Analysis Tool.
Research and Resources
The EL work will be informed by the Descriptive Study of Services to LEP Students and LEP Students With Disabilities Policy Report: Summary of Findings Related to LEP and SPED-LEP Students (Zehler et al., 2003), Distinguishing Language Acquisition From Learning Disabilities (Klingner, n.d.), and Identifying and Supporting English Learner Students With Learning Disabilities: Key Issues in the Literature and State Practice (Burr, Haas, & Ferriere, 2015).
The AAYMPI achievement gap pilot project outcomes will be informed by the following: the GLEC Policy Equity Analysis Tool, the Model Policy on Alternatives to Suspensions and Expulsion, the Model Code of Student Conduct, and the Alternatives to Suspension and Expulsion Toolkit.