Academic journal article The Professional Educator

The Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Summer School for English Language Learners

Academic journal article The Professional Educator

The Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Summer School for English Language Learners

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purposes of this paper are to explain the development processes of an intensive summer program for English language learners and to discuss course improvement strategies based on the evaluation outcomes. This 60-hr partnership program between local schools and a university was developed to improve the language proficiency of increasing numbers of international students in the southeastern United States. Following a conventional instructional design model, the authors conducted needs assessments with parents and teachers and developed and implemented a one-month intensive English program emphasizing the improvement of reading and writing skills and test preparation. Formative and summative evaluations were conducted to identify areas of improvement and to examine the effectiveness of the program. This paper reports the evaluation results and discusses three areas that need to be considered to develop a quality summer English program: (a) the incorporation of standardized tests, (b) the creation of comfortable learning environments, and (c) the development of curriculum content.

Introduction

Many scholars claim that the Information Age of the 21st century demands a new instructional approach that focuses on the diverse needs of students (Halverson, Grigg, Prichett, & Thomas, 2007; Toffler & Toffler, 2006). Reighluth (1997) particularly emphasizes the importance of customized instruction. He asserts that as people acclimate to customized marketing and communications (e.g., cell phones and Tivo), they are likely to expect such customization in all spheres of life, including education. Thus, it is critical for program designers to examine the needs of students and their parents and to develop strategies not only to meet their specific demands but also to ensure the quality of the program (Brisk, 1998).

The purposes of this paper are to describe the development process of an intensive summer program for English language learners (ELLs) and to discuss program improvement strategies based on the evaluation outcomes. With the influx of foreign residents, the need for academic support during the summer break has increased in the southeastern United States. To support these new residents, we (two faculty members at a local university) conducted an extensive needs analysis and developed and implemented an English language summer program over the course of two years. The 60-hour program was a partnership project between two local districts and the university and was open to all international residents. In this paper, we first provide background information about developing such a program and then describe the outcomes of the initial project. Based on first-year experiences, we redesigned the program according to an instructional systems design model. A detailed explanation of that model and the program development process follows. We conclude the paper by suggesting areas that need consideration in order to develop a quality summer program for ELLs.

Background of the Study

With the opening of many automobile manufacturing companies in the local community, the international population has dramatically increased, including an especially high number of Korean families. Previous studies have indicated that family members of internationals undergo hardships while acclimating to a foreign environment (Ali, Van der Zee, & Sanders, 2003; Copeland & Norell, 2002; Ward & Kennedy, 1994). When there is inadequate support for these newcomers, children and their family members are at risk of experiencing emotional, psychological, and social difficulties. Studies also indicate significant academic achievement gaps among ELLs. For example, Echevarria, Short, and Powers (2006) report that 11% of ELLs in grade 7 who took the California reading test in 2002 scored at or above the 50th percentile, compared to 57% of minority students who were proficient in English and 48% of all students who took the test. …

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