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Reading List: Opportunities to Learn: English Learners

**Gándara, P., Maxwell-Jolly, J., & Rumberger, R. (2008). Resource Needs for English Learners: Getting Down to Policy Recommendations. Santa Barbara, CA: UC Linguistic Minority Research Institute. Available at

This report presents a series of policy options that aim to strengthen the educational offerings and outcomes for California’s EL students. Based upon previous research conducted for Getting Down to Facts, this report first outlines the current limitations and shortcomings in the opportunities to learn for California’s EL students. The range of policy options include additional funding for EL students, the creation of an evaluation template to aid in data-based decision-making, the strategic creation of teacher centers to improve and maintain high-levels of instructional practice for EL students, and working to understand the relationship (and alignment) between CELDT scores and CST performance.

Callahan, R. (2005). Tracking and High School English Learners: Limiting Opportunity to Learn. American Educational Research Journal, 42, 305-328. Available at

This article questions the belief that fluency in English is the primary, if not sole, requirement for academic success of English learner students. The author suggests that a strong base in content-area academics is also needed to reach academic success. Callahan investigates the effects of track placement and English proficiency on secondary English learners’ academic achievement while taking students’ previous schooling and length of time enrolled in U.S. schools into account. The results of this study suggest that a) tracking plays a large role in predicting English learners’ academic achievement, even more than proficiency in English; b) English learners must be exposed to twice as much instruction as native English speakers in terms of both language and content, so instructional time and course-taking patterns should be revised; c) focusing on the quality of classroom instruction will shift the discourse away from limited language proficiency back to academic content.

Gándara, P. & Hopkins M. (2008). Benchmarking Improvements for Students of Color and English Learners in Conditions of Education in California in 2008. Berkeley, CA: Policy Analysis for California Education. Available in

In this chapter from PACE’s recent publication Conditions of Education, the authors address the achievement gaps among subgroups of students in California. After reviewing a wide range of indicators, including disparities in CST scores, CAHSEE results, and A-G completion rates, the authors present two preliminary recommendations. First, the state should set benchmarks to measure progress on equalizing resources and closing the achievement gap. Secondly, California’s accountability system should include multiple “opportunity measures,” including student engagement.

**This document is considered a priority reading.