Posted on the Colorín Colorado blog November 14, 2012 by Diane Staehr Fenner

Yesterday, I attended the American Federation of Teachers’ Second Roundtable on the CCSS and ELLs. Here’s a photo of all the presenters.

The first Roundtable, held in June 2012, was an overwhelming success, and Giselle Lundy-Ponce, Assistant Director of the Educational Issues Department, organized the second event. AFT significantly widened the audience by also providing access to the second Roundtable via webinar. Around 50 people were in the face-to face meeting, and 370 people participated via webinar (which was evidenced by the constant “ding” we heard whenever anyone joined the online session!). You can find a link to the archived webinar here. Giselle shared with me that she is already planning for the third Roundtable, so stay tuned for new developments.

I’ll share with you information on each of the Roundtable presentations that will be of interest to teachers. At the end of the blog I’ll highlight two questions and answers that will also be worth your attention.

Stanford’s Understanding Language (Kenji Hakuta)

Kenji set up the historical context for the day’s event by sharing relevant legislation that impacts the education of ELs. He described the old paradigm of teaching content and language to ELLs by focusing mainly on vocabulary and grammar. However, the new paradigm of the CCSS requires teachers to teach content and language by focusing on such language constructs as discourse, complex text, explanation, argumentation, purpose, typical structure of text, sentence structures, and vocabulary practices. Kenji ended by stressing that ELLs’ success in the CCSS requires a different kind of collaboration at all levels – including students, teachers, site and district leaders, state leaders, pre-service and in-service providers, test makers, publishers, and funders.

Smarter Balanced Presentation (Magda Chia)

Smarter Balanced is going to be piloting its assessments in Spring 2013. Magda told us that the consortium needs over 1 million students to take part, and they need ELLs to participate to make sure they are represented in the student sample. So, if you teach in a Smarter Balanced state, please make your district communicates with your state department of education so that your ELLs can participate in the pilot if at all possible.

Smarter Balanced has a blog you can follow and also has reserved a section of their website for under-represented students, which includes ELLs.

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness in College and Careers (Danielle Griswold)

Teachers in the 23-state PARCC alliance can keep up with their state’s consortium via blogs and the PARCC newsletter, which you can sign up for here.

The PARCC accommodations manual will go out for public comment in early Spring 2013. They need teachers to provide feedback on the draft manual.

Council of Chief State School Officers (Chris Minnich & Carrie Heath Phillips)

Cross agency teams are going to participate in a meeting to be held February 7-8 , 2013 in Atlanta on access for all learners to the CCSS. The meeting will focus on including Students with Disabilities and ELLs. There are opportunities for districts to be members of these groups.

CCSSO is hoping to create a teacher’s version of the ELPD Framework that takes away a lot of the technical aspects of the framework so that a broader audience can use it. CCSSO is seeking funding for the teacher’s version, which would explain what the CCSS language practices are.

Colorín Colorado (Lydia Breiseth)

Everything that Lydia shared was appropriate for teachers, so I will just include a couple of main points here. She told us how Colorín Colorado is the most widely-used ELL site for educators and families – 130,000 unique visit the site each month. Lydia underscored that the site helps teachers navigate the waters by disseminating information to teachers and administrators. She shared some resources on the CCSS for ELLs such as articles, video interviews, and journal entries. Colorín Colorado will be uploading two video projects related to the CCSS for ELLs, including authentic classroom footage from a school in Albuquerque, NM.

Question and Answer Session

Many of the questions asked highlight the need for teachers to be more involved in the CCSS decision-making process and have more access to CCSS/ELL resources.

Question: The assessment consortia are heavily represented by Ph.D.s, state leaders, and the like. What steps are the consortia taking to maximize the invitation to comment? Are you tapping into state and federal registers? Using the administration law function of each state?

Answer: Both consortia described a systematic way to incorporate educators’ feedback. Veronica Rivera from the Association for Latino Administrators and Superintendents suggested associations and professional organizations think about how they can get this information to school district leaders so they can have a voice in the process.

Question: How do we prioritize the CCSS in ESL classrooms?

Answer: Kenji suggested that educators need to look at the key shifts in the CCSS and think about how they “ride that wave” in the English Language Development instruction area. For example, he said teachers could look at text-based evidence. It’s an important part of what English Language Arts work is focused on. It gives a basis around which ELD instruction might focus as well. It’s about text that’s being used in the content area. PARCC shared that their model content frameworks would be a good way to look at the depth of complexity in the standards and how that comes to life.