Improving Learning of Immigrant Students in Rural Schools

By: Nancy Akhavan  

It is important to examine the programmatic and instructional causes behind the large number of long term English learners in American schools and understand how to change systems to ensure students learn English and make adequate yearly progress in supportive instructional settings that also value students' first languages. This session will discuss research conducted in a rural school district in California that has more than fifty percent of its learners learning English, including many immigrant students. The plan, implementation, and evaluation of professional development that led to change in instructional strategies to support these learners was evaluated for effectiveness in changing teachers' practices to ensure English learners attained English proficiency, developed high levels of academic attainment, and met the same challenging state academic standards as all other students in the district and state. This was a mixed methods study based on observations, interviews, and document analysis. The participant sample included 75 teachers who were involved in a year-long professional development program to increase student learning and achievement in literacy. Observations were conducted during the professional development sessions and in each of the teachers’ classrooms. A document analysis was conducted with the data collected. The findings revealed the positive relationship between long term professional development with coaching and observation and sustained implementation of new practices.

English learners, instruction
Education and Learning in a World of Difference
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Nancy Akhavan

Associate Professor, Educational Leadership, Fresno State, United States
CA, United States

Nancy Akhavan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Fresno State. She has written numerous books on teaching and learning for teachers in the K-12 setting. She teaches students at the graduate level in Master's and doctoral programs.