News Archive - 2012

Metis Study Shows Impact of Philadelphia Effort to Improve Skills of English Language Learners

Metis Associates has posted a new report based on its evaluation of the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) English Language Learner (ELL) program, designed to close the achievement gap between native English speakers and students whose first language is not English. The schools enroll more than 12,000 ELLs. In 2010, SDP created a new office to support schools and teachers in improving instruction for ELLs, and Metis was retained to evaluate the impact of three well-established, research-based instructional models that are being used in the district: the Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) program for elementary school students and the Sheltered Instruction (SI) program and Newcomer Learning Academies (NLA) for high school students.

Metis collected and analyzed data from a variety of sources and individuals, including staff, teachers, students, and parents; conducted site visits; and observed classes. Students in all three programs were compared with ELLs at the same schools who were not enrolled in these programs.

Metis analyzed data for 179 students in five schools implementing TBE programs, which are highly structured and allow students to learn in their own languages until they reach proficiency in English (Kindergartners begin with 80 percent of their learning in their native languages and 20 percent in English and gradually transition to the opposite ratio through fifth grade). The goal of continuing some teaching in the native languages is to maintain bilingual competency. The study found that TBE participants had slightly better attendance and outperformed their non-TBE peers on tests design to assess ELLs' progress in English language acquisition. Teachers and principals reported that the professional development and support they received were the centerpieces of the program's success.

The SI program aims to develop academic skills and content knowledge while bringing high school students up to speed in English proficiency. Metis studied data for nearly all 900 participating students in six schools. Overall, these students' gains on English tests were similar to those of their ELL peers in non-sheltered classrooms, but they performed better than these peers on the reading and math portions of standardized statewide tests. SI students also had better daily attendance than did their ELL peers in non-sheltered classrooms or mainstream students. Metis also found that success in SI programs depended a great deal on individual teachers and school environments.

For newly arrived immigrants who have low-literacy skills in their native languages or have had their educations interrupted, Newcomer Learning Academies (NLA) were developed, following the evidence-based Newcomer Schools model. Metis reviewed data for the 70 students enrolled in this program in three schools and found that the program was very successful in its first year, providing a safe and nurturing environment for building English, social, and communication skills and for easing the transition into the mainstream. NLA students also had better daily attendance than non-NLA ELLs and mainstream students in the same schools.

Metis's report was referenced on July 19, 2012, in a blog post about the prospect of moving the NLAs to a single location. Amid a debate among parents about the wisdom of grouping these students together in one school, the blog quoted Metis's findings about the benefits of the NLA program.

The findings from this evaluation have been widely disseminated by the SDP. It is anticipated that they will be very helpful—given Philadelphia's large and expanding immigrant communities—in making sure that ELL programs are effective and truly help ELL students to develop their academic skills and successfully integrate into the larger society.

A full report on the program, including Metis's recommendations for future implementation, is available here.

news archive - 2012

December 7, 2012
Metis Begins Evaluation with Our Piece of the Pie®

November 20, 2012
Arkansas Department of Education Receives Federal Grant to Streamline School Lunch Eligibility Process

November 13, 2012
Jing Zhu Named a Certified Reviewer for the Institute of Education Sciences' What Works Clearinghouse

October 5, 2012
Metis to Present at the American Evaluation Association conference

September 10, 2012
Researching Charter School Effectiveness: Choosing the Right Evaluation Design

August 22, 2012
Metis Welcomes Ira Cutler, Vice President for Policy and Strategic Planning

August 16, 2012
Metis to Present Research on United Way - Financial Independence Today Program on September 21, 2012, at Asset-Building Conference

July 16, 2012
Applying for a Magnet Schools Assistance Program Grant: Metis Staff to Present Key Factors to Consider

July 9, 2012
Making Data Count: Metis to Present Best Practices at National GEAR UP Conference July 24, 2012

June 20, 2012
Metis Study Shows Impact of Philadelphia Effort to Improve Skills of English Language Learners

June 7, 2012
Charleston County School District Weaves Technology into Instruction

May 1, 2012
Metis Begins Evaluation Work with Pro Bono Partnership

April 24, 2012
Metis Staff Win Award for Supporting Epilepsy Awareness

April 17, 2012
Metis Associates Study Named in Washington Post Blog

March 23, 2012
Metis Begins Work with New Haven Home Recovery

March 23, 2012
Jing Zhu to Present at the Annual AERA Meeting

March 23, 2012
Classroom, Inc. Makes Significant Gains

March 23, 2012
Metis Staff Publish Chapter in Book on Juvenile Justice

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Project Updates Archive - 2012