Dr. Ilana Umansky (University of Oregon) will give a presentation on October 18th as part of the IES-PIRT Proseminar series.
“You Can’t Even Compare Them”:
English Learner Policy and Services Among Indigenous Students
Indigenous (American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian) students are uniquely identified in federal law as it relates to English learner (EL) education. Whereas non-Indigenous students must have a home or primary language other than English to be eligible for EL identification, Indigenous students are eligible if they come “from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on the individual’s level of English language proficiency” (ESSA, 2015). As such, and paired with a brutal history that has robbed many Indigenous students of their heritage languages, EL-classified Indigenous students may have very different linguistic characteristics compared to immigrant-origin EL students. This talk with synthesize work from three studies related to EL education policy and service provision for Indigenous students. The talk will address variation in how the 50 states have set policies related to the identification of Indigenous students as ELs. It will then focus in on the Alaska context, describing the characteristics and educational contexts of Alaska Native EL-classified students, the services they receive in school and how these services are tailored to their unique needs, skills, and contexts. Finally, the talk will explore evidence on the educational outcomes of EL-classified Alaska Native students, including the impact of EL classification itself. Largely overlooked in existing research, this talk will raise foundational questions related to whether EL classification and services are appropriate for Indigenous students, and under what circumstances.
The Institute of Education Sciences-funded Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training (IES-PIRT) program is an interdisciplinary fellowship program designed to train students of diverse backgrounds to become outstanding researchers in the educational sciences. In addition to funding doctoral students from the seven affiliated departments across NYU the program includes a proseminar series. The series brings together presentations by both NYU and external experts who will help to introduce, reintroduce, and consolidate students' advanced understanding of the concepts of internal, external, construct, and statistical validity.