Supporting students who are English Language Learners or students with IEPs, or students who fit both descriptions, requires that instruction be flexible in order to accommodate the range of students' accessing, processing, interpreting and demonstrating acquisition of skills, information, and global understanding.

According to EdWeek, 62 big-city school systems have pledged support to President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative dedicated to improving academic outcomes for African-American and Latino males.1 But keeping this pledge will require educators, throughout Michigan and across the nation, to address the often uncomfortable issues around how they feel about and deal with young males of color. It also means moving beyond negative stereotypes and preconceptions. According to Dr. Darron T. Smith, "Negative representations of African-American males are readily visible and conveyed to the public through the news, film, music videos, reality television and other programming and forms of media."2

Using data to drive school improvement sounds straightforward. Every day educators hear terminology like "data-driven decision making," "data dashboard," and "data analytics" with surprising frequency. Schools are awash in data more than ever before. On the one hand, the possibilities presented by these data systems are incredible. On the other hand, it is easy to quickly become overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude and complexity of the data. Rich datasets are often underutilized because educators are either unaware the data exists, or are unsure about how to effectively use the data. In this article, we want to showcase some specific data that can be used to drive school improvement for English language learners (ELLs).

School improvement variables are many and diverse and even more so when assessing and addressing achievement gaps across and within subgroups. Data-driven school improvement remains a priority and digging into relevant data can be daunting. While data analysis is typically focused at the school and classroom level, it can be useful to take a look at aggregate data at the ISD level. This level of data review can assist in tackling underlying or less obvious issues that impact achievement gaps for students with IEPs. In addition, identification of such issues can inform procedural and managerial improvements.

cultural proficiency journeyBook Author: Campbell Jones et al. (2010)

The diversity in today's schools is continually increasing and educators are being called upon to teach every child, regardless of race, class, gender, disability, or other indicators of difference. This raises questions such as:

  • What are the most effective instructional techniques needed to educate students from diverse backgrounds?
  • What levels of cultural knowledge do teachers and leaders need to educate children from diverse backgrounds?
  • And in what ways can schools fulfill their responsibility to educate every child? (p. iv)

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