Despite of language, what type of ability grouping should teachers use?

Sharon Vaughn answers that in the International Reading Association blog site -the following question from a teacher.
What Type of Literature Circle Grouping Works Best—Same Ability or Mixed Ability?

Click here to read what latest research says about ability, mixed, pairing, small group and 1 to 1 instructional grouping. Basic summary use it all!– find your purpose, identify the standards you are addressing, look at your data and provide a lot of high engaged opportunities in the classroom. The wonderful opportunity here is that this recommendation can be done in any language and it will not only support learning of core tier 1 instruction but also provide opportunity for additional options for interventions.

Continued Support for Students to be Bilingual….

It looks like in the last few months, the media has been continually reporting the benefits of bilingualism for all students. Here a recent post from today's Huffington Post

Lobbying is needed to continue this momentum- please forward to those you think will share and support it
Below is a paragraph they reported on the benefits of being bilingual
“The results generally show the more language kids get, the more striking the results are,” Rivers said. “They score better on all sorts of standardized measures, whether it’s first language literacy, mathematics and more. And there’s lots of other data on socio-economic outcome. People who speak a foreign language tend to make more money. Something like 3 percent on average regardless of the field, assuming they also speak English.”
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North Carolina Dual Language Programs Close the Achievement Gap for ELLs

The state of North Carolina conducted an evaluation of the Dual Language Programs in their schools districts. The results are more evidence that there are ways to help ELLs succeed and close the achievement gaps among our children. Equal opportunity! Please link to the following report
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Below are the main points:
Dual language instruction is favored across all groups and situations.
Effect sizes are consistent with other large-scale research studies.
1. Dual language programs appear to substantially raise test scores of ELLs and African American students
2. Reading and Math scores of students in two-way dual language education are higher for all students regardless of race/ethnicity, socioeconomic, LEP or special education status.


Looking for an RTI tool for Science?

I just finished reading the article Progress Monitoring to Support Science Learning for All Students by my colleague Kimberly Vannest and co-authors. In this article she presents a progress monitoring strategy for science and perhaps even a way to think about it for social studies/history, etc. The idea is simple lets identify the key words by grade level from state standards, curriculum, and experts in the field and create a probe that would allow the teacher to measure how well the students are learning those concepts over the year. Yes, this is called curriculum-based measurement and it works. In fact it has 30 years of research backing it up. To read the how to article please visit the Council for Exceptional Children website and under the publications look for Teaching Exceptional Children journal -July/August 2012 vol.44 (6) pages 66-72.
Dr. Vannest also has developed a free online web tool that will help you create this method for progress monitoring using key words so visit her free website Data to Knowledge (D2K)at
Thanks Kimber– great work!

RTI- Early Warning Indicators for English Language Learners/Bilingual Students in 9th Grade

This recent article by the National High Schools Center looked at Early Warning Indicators (EWI) of English language learners to identify graduation trends for these students. Edweek has published a recent article on this report and it highlights :
1. How well 9th graders perform in their courses predict whether they will graduate– more telling that their English language profiency.
2. Grade point average
3. Attendance

These 3 indicators can accurately predict the high likely of dropping out of high school. As part of a multi-tier system of support (MTSS) or an Response to Intervention (RTI) model we can used this information to provide a strong core that engages students and keep them coming and completing their work at Tier 1 level. It can also serve to identify Tier 2 and Tier 3 needs and interventions so that they can perform in their courses and be successful in 9th grade thus increasing the probability that will graduate. This is a great link between this two frameworks with promising practices for teachers and administrators.
Here is a link to the article in Ed Week

Ed Week’s Web Resource on Dual Language Education

This week I would like to highlight two resources on Dual Language Education:

1. Ed Week’s Section on Dual Language Education by Leslie A. Maxwell. This webpage summarizes current research on dual language education programs better known as two-way bilingual education programs where 50% of students are English dominant and 50% are Spanish dominant (or other language) and the curriculum is provide equally in both languages. This webpage has videos, articles, and latest research on the benefits of this type of education programs that is on the rise in the US (it seems silly to say this part as Europe works very much this way and kids learn more than 2 language most of the time). In the latest post you can see a video of a program in CA where children experience literacy activities in Spanish and English.

2. Diary of a Bilingual School is the second resource I am highlighting this week. The book is an account of a dual language program over a year. In their description, “the book focuses on Chicago’s Inter-American Magnet School, one of the nation’s most acclaimed dual immersion programs, where children thrive in an environment that unlocks their intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. Simultaneously, without conscious effort, they become proficient in two languages and at home in a culture that differs from their own”. Its free on Kindle this week -click here to access

Links to Academic Articles in Bilingual Development

Bilingualism in infancy: first steps in perception and comprehension
Janet F. Werker and Krista Byers-Heinlein in Trends in Cognitive Sciences Journal 2008.

Bilingual language learning: An ERP study relating early brain responses to speech, language input, and later word production by Adrian Garcia-Sierraa, Maritza Rivera-Gaxiolaa, Cherie R. Percaccioa, Barbara T. Conboyb, Harriett Romoc, Lindsay Klarmana, Sophia Ortizc, Patricia K. Kuhla, Journal of Phonetics in 2011.

Language selection in bilingual word production: Electrophysiological evidence for cross-language competition
Noriko Hoshinoa, and Guillaume Thierryb in Brain Research in 2010.

Brian Goldstein’s, 2nd edition of Bilingual Language Development and Disorders in Spanish-English Speakers. Brookes Publishing

Bilingualism Matters according to Latest Research in the NY Times

This New York Times article by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee provides a summary of a variety of research evidence on the benefits of bilingualism. The author summarizes research benefits in young children and the elderly and provides a new way to see bilingualism as an edge! Benefits include:
Better cognitive skills in general
Better/improved executive functioning
Larger vocabulary
Shielding from Dementia and Alzheimers
Stimulating on the areas of the brains that improves functioning not seen in monolinguals
Speed in processing and shielding of distractions
Increased ability to monitor the environment

This is a great must read!

SMART RTI- What is that anyway?

In this post I would like to describe what is SMART RTI and the latest research from its authors as to how to continue improving RTI in school district and schools.
As I sat in my office this morning, I opened the most recent issue of the special education journal Exceptional Children and found SMART RTI!
According to the authors, SMART RTI is like SMART phones, cars or houses, which are using information oriented enhancements to make these tools work better and more efficiently–in Response to Intervention (RTI) this is an opportunity to look at the “Next Generation” approach to Multilevel prevention frameworks.
What is SMART RTI (or how I like to call it SmRTI?)
Fuchs, Fuchs, and Compton (2012) in their most recent article SMART RTI: A Next Generation Approach to Multilevel Prevention- explain that as districts and schools address the issue of RTI and the time and cost of resources for implementation they should also be thinking “out of the box” to improve the implementation of the model/framework. In their redesign of RTI their overall message recommends the following features:
1. Having multi- stage screening processed versus a 1 universal screening tool to determine the needed level of intervention (investment upfront with the hope of less false-positives).
2. Having Tier 3 or tertiary prevention that integrated data-based program modification with meaningful access to the curriculum, and clear explanation of movement across tiers inherent in student IEPs– for students with disabilities.

The authors make a great point in explaining the current limitations of RTI in districts and schools today, and offer new ideas that allow RTI to expand its ability to meet the needs of all students. The authors believe that primary (Tier 1) and secondary prevention (Tier 2) benefits from data-based problem solving and standard protocols practices but that we need “experimental” instruction in the tertiary interventions. Does this mean that Tier 3 is special education? No, I believe in their article the authors are talking about the unique needs of students with disabilities and how their needs will be met across the level of tiers recognizing that they will need tertiary interventions (Tier 3) that should be handled by special education teachers. At this point, special education teacher evaluate “meaningful” access to the general curriculum and wage it against the student’s current level of performance in designing instruction, but the authors don’t address the rest of the population of students who may at times need Tier 3 level of supports– students who are English language learners and low achievers in general, or students with emotional behavioral disorders.
The authors call for SMART RTI is welcome and critical at this point when districts and schools are hitting walls in time, resources, and the number of students who are not responding. We need to support this effort to move forward and to continue the current gains we have made to close the silos of education in practice. RTI has required by design that Offices of Special Education, Curriculum and Instruction, English Language Learners/Bilingual Education, and others collaborate; it has required that regular education, special education teachers and support personnel sit at the table and work together like never before to support all learners because of its ccles of progress monitoring, and its also made principals and headmasters become instructional leaders and consumers of data – we don’t want this to go away we want to make it more effective!

The article can be found at the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) in its premier publication Exceptional Children. Reference: Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L, Compton, D. (2012) SMART RTI: Next Generation Approach to Multilevel Prevention, Exceptional Children, 78(3), 23-279.