ELL in Gateway Cities
Official Title: Programs for English Language Learners in Gateway Cities
- Funding History
The English Language Learners in Gateway Cities program primarily funds grants for summer academies that seek to improve the English language skills of middle and high school students in Gateway Cities.
English Language Learners (ELL) face some of the greatest challenges to academic success. Many are recently arrived immigrants with limited formal education and modest family resources. These students may need four years on average to catch up on academic English with native speaking peers, and yet ELLs have to take state standardized tests within two years of entering school in Massachusetts. Increased learning time during the summer can help ELL students accelerate their progress.
The Executive Office of Education created the ELL in Gateway Cities program in 2013 as part of a wider Gateway Cities education agenda to help address the challenges faced by ELL students in these cities. Generally, the programs have been led by local school district in collaboration with community partners. The ELL in Gateway Cities programs have also featured field trips, college access programming, service-learning, and other enrichment elements to supplement their academic content.
The initial program in the summer of 2013 took place in 12 Gateway Cities, including Holyoke, Lowell, and Brockton. In the summer of 2014, the program expanded to roughly 20 Gateway Cities. The first year program helped over 70 percent of students evaluated in Holyoke, Lowell, and Brockton increase or maintain English language skills, in a context where many students’ skills decline over the summer break. However, programs reported challenges with recruiting teachers and students, balancing academics with enrichment, and having adequate time for teacher planning.
Building on these initial positive results, the Executive Office of Education contracted with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform to evaluate the Gateways Cities ELL programs operating over the summer of 2014. This review found a range of positive developments from the program including important gains in English proficiency, creation of innovative and demanding curriculum, collaboration between teachers and community organizations, and a culturally and socially supportive environment for young people. Programs in different cities had varied levels of success in these areas. Conversely, the review also highlighted areas for improvement such as expanding to earlier grades, including meals and transportation for children, sharing best practices across cities, and having a more rigorous and unified data evaluation system.
Updated September 2016
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