Ms. Carnock, a policy analyst with Education Policy at New America, member of the Dual Language Learner National Work Group, and former second grade teacher, has examined a multitude of policy data reports during the course of this blog series. In her detailed examinations, Ms. Carnock surmises that policy leaders “cannot access high-quality, complete information about these children, [and therefore] struggle to make policy decisions and investments in ECE in strategic, effective ways.”
To better include DLLs in state policy, many states must improve their policies for data collection:
According to the blog post, most state-funded pre-K programs are unable to track the participation of DLLs, nor can they identify the number of children who speak a language other than English at home. To combat this, states should do the following:
- Adopt a uniform protocol, such as conducting a family interview and language screening, to identify DLLs and collect this data across state ECE programs.
- When identifying DLLs, screen for language abilities in both English and a child’s home language to collect more complete data.
2. ECE program quality for DLLs
Quality Rating and Improvement System, better known as QRIS, is a state-implemented system which tracks the quality of a given state’s ECE services. Ms. Carnock has concluded that “most states are failing to include any criteria that specifically evaluate how providers are responsive to DLLs’ unique needs,” in addition to the “barriers to participation in QRIS for immigrant and multilingual providers serving DLLs, [and] the accessibility and clarity of public QRIS data for DLL families.” To this point, Ms. Carnock suggests that we do the following:
- Adopt and prioritize DLL-related indicators in QRIS.
- Provide technical assistance and outreach to linguistically diverse providers to encourage their participation in QRIS.
- Translate state websites that publish QRIS ratings to increase accessibility for DLL parents.
- Publicly report a DLL subscore that bundles all DLL-related indicators into one rating.
3. DLLs’ kindergarten readiness
Many states are utilizing the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) to “measure a child’s knowledge and abilities across multiple domains, including math, literacy, social skills, and physical development.” However, in many of the states which implement this assessment, the KRA is only offered in English which “creates major validity concerns for DLLs whose development is spread across two or more languages.” Overall, testing accommodations should be made for DLLs:
- Assess DLLs bilingually on kindergarten readiness assessments (KRAs).
- Invest in the development of valid bilingual assessment tools in home languages.
- Invest in expanding access to bilingual assessors.
- Improve and increase professional development and guidance for teachers on administering KRAs with DLLs.
- If publicly reporting data by DLL status for KRAs, provide guidance and explain limitations of these data to users.
According to Ms. Carnock, to provide equitable data collection, and therefore equitable education practices, states should try to implement these changes. As she concludes, “with one out of every four preschool-aged children considered a DLL, it is important—now more than ever—to design policies that work for this growing population of learners.”
-Melissa Hoppie, Graduate Student Researcher