The third and final convening of the 2020-2021 Dual Language Learner (DLL) / English Learner (EL) PreK-3rd COVID-19 Learning Community took place on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Learning Community participants identified two topics as critical issues they are currently facing in their work with DLLs and ELs: assessing student knowledge and effective professional development (PD). Participants noted that this year in particular required a more thoughtful approach to student assessment, given the stressful situations (including distance learning, social isolation, and coping with illness) that young children experienced during the pandemic.
Early Edge’s partners from the California Department of Education (CDE) were invited to join the convening and shared a brief presentation on the subject of assessing student knowledge for DLLs / ELs in PreK through 3rd grade contexts. Early Edge also identified participants from the Learning Community who were interested in sharing about their approach to effective PD, providing a space to lift up successes and share resources amongst the Community members and create an opportunity for the group to reflect on their own strategies and practices.
Below are a few highlights from topic areas presented by CDE and members of the Learning Community.
Assessing Student Knowledge
- Assessments can be helpful tools to support the ongoing growth and development of children’s multiple language abilities if used in a way that informs educator and program choices.
- Assessments should consider the levels of language development: What does an emerging understanding (early), an expanding understanding (intermediate), or a bridging understanding (advanced) look like?
- In developing an assessment, it is important to consider and define what the language feature to be assessed looks like for each stage of development.
- Parent observations and educator observations can be useful tools in addition to more traditional interview and test style assessments.
Effective Professional Development
Presenters: Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) Head Start and San Francisco Unified School District
A few lessons learned that emerged from both presentations included:
- The importance of planning before, during, and after effective PD opportunities.
- The need for intentionality in all phases of planning.
- The use of Personalized Oral Language Learning (POLL) strategies.
The group identified the following as strategies and solutions to consider within their own contexts:
- Incorporating a take-away element to PD opportunities. Ask participants: “What’s one next step you’re committing to implementing before next time?”
- Formalizing the next steps element of PD opportunities to support easier follow through for participants.
- Incorporating the California Early Childhood Educator Competencies into PD opportunities.
A variety of resources were shared during the meeting. These resources are available below:
- Dual Language Learners Professional Development
- California Best Practices for Young Dual Language Learners Research Overview Pages
- Presenter note: see Paper 5 Assessing Young Dual Language Learners
- Improving Education for Multilingual and English Learners: Research to Practice
- Presenter note: see Chapter 4
- ELPAC Definitions of Task Types
- ELPAC Domain Information Sheets
- ELPAC Starting Smarter
- California Early Childhood Educator Competencies
- Example SFUSD Working Flyer
Special thanks to all the participants for their time and willingness to share resources and strategies with one another during the particularly challenging circumstances of the 2020-2021 school year.
Early Edge California is preparing a full “lessons learned” summary from the three Learning Community meetings that we will be sharing in the future. For more information on the Learning Community or the project, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.