Math and Science Education with English Language Learners: Contributions of the DR K-12 Program. Targeted Study Group Working PaperReport as inadecuate

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Abt Associates

Although educational leaders, policy makers, and researchers have long emphasized the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for the country's continued prosperity, increasing participation in STEM has remained a challenge for both the education and scientific communities (Pearson & Fechter, 1994; National Academies, 2007; President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, 2010; American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1989). A historic imbalance in STEM participation persists whereby proportionately fewer female and minority students enroll in STEM courses and seek employment in STEM professions (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, 2010). Historically the subject area instruction of English Language Learners (ELLs) in math and science has received limited attention by the research community, which has instead focused on English proficiency and literacy of ELLs (Lee, 2005). Thus, the research fields of math and science education have developed independent of the research field involving ELLs. However, this trend is beginning to fade as science and math education researchers and their ELL education peers have begun to crossover to one another's domains to produce new understandings and strategies in math and science education specific to the needs of English Language Learners. For its part, the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Discovery Research K-12 (DR K-12) program is contributing to the growth of knowledge in these areas of crossover by funding ELL math and ELL science education projects that seek to understand and improve STEM learning and STEM instruction with ELLs. To investigate the contribution of the DR K-12 portfolio to the knowledge base on math and science learning among ELLs, the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE) designed a study to explore the ELL work that is being conducted in the DR K-12 projects. This paper summarizes the work of this study. It begins with a description of the methodology employed, followed by a presentation of the findings, and finally a discussion of the conclusions drawn from this work. The findings are organized into discussions about the expertise held by the DR K-12 ELL researchers and research teams, the characteristics of the ELL research being conducted by the DR K-12 projects, and a comparison of the research conducted by the DR K-12 projects with published research on ELL-science education and ELL-math education. The following appendices are included: (1) Description of DR K-12 Projects; (2) Research in Science Education and ELL; and (3) Research in Math Education and ELL.

Descriptors: Mathematics Education, Science Education, English Language Learners, Language Proficiency, Literacy, English (Second Language), Second Language Learning, STEM Education, Educational Strategies, Educational Improvement, Disproportionate Representation, Minority Groups, Educational Research, Comparative Analysis, Expertise, Researchers, Research Methodology, Program Descriptions

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Author: Martinez, Alina; Rhodes, Hilary; Copson, Elizabeth; Tiano, Megan; DellaRocco, Nicole; Donoghue, Nathaniel; Marco, Lisa


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