Academic journal article Issues in Teacher Education

The Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core State Standards, and English Learners: Using the SSTELLA Framework to Prepare Secondary Science Teachers

Academic journal article Issues in Teacher Education

The Next Generation Science Standards, Common Core State Standards, and English Learners: Using the SSTELLA Framework to Prepare Secondary Science Teachers

Article excerpt

Introduction

This article focuses on a critical issue in STEM education: preparing novice secondary school teachers to provide effective science instruction to the rapidly growing population of students from language minority groups who traditionally have been underserved in STEM education and who are underrepresented in STEM degrees and careers (National Academy of Sciences [NAS], 2010; Oakes, Joseph, & Muir, 2004). This issue is both salient and timely. With the coincidence of the implementation of the Common Core State Standards [CCSS] (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2010) in English language arts and mathematics and the recently released Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS; Achieve, 2013), science teachers and teacher educators alike are faced with new challenges in regard to the integration of authentic scientific and literacy practices in science classrooms. Moreover, the convergence of the NGSS and the CCSS around the productive use of language in authentic contexts represents a major shift in the role of language in all areas of instruction (Lee, Quinn, & Valdés, 2013). We present an instructional framework (Secondary Science Teaching with English Language and Literacy Acquisition [SSTELLA] ) that reflects the reciprocal and synergistic relationships among science, language, and literacy. We argue that this integrated model can be infused into secondary teacher preparation in ways that lead to improved teacher practice in terms of teaching English learners (ELs) and improved student achievement in science.

EL Access to Rigorous Science and English Language Development

ELs are the fastest growing sector of the school-age population, yet they also have the least access to the core academic curriculum ( Genesee, Lindholm-Leary, Saunders, & Christian, 2005; Janzen,2008;U.S. Census Bureau, 2010), and their achievement in science and literacy has lagged behind that of native English speakers for over 30 years (Lee & Luyxk, 2006; National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2011; Rodriguez, 2010). Further, gaps in achievement increase from elementary school to secondary school (NCES, 2011). Thus, it is not surprising that ELs are underrepresented in STEM degrees and careers and are less likely to perceive science subjects as relevant to their lives outside of school (Buxton, 2006). At the core of the problem is the assumption that ELs need to be proficient in English before being introduced to more rigorous instruction in the content areas (Met, 1994). This is problematic because it may take as long as seven years for these students to acquire a level of language proficiency comparable to native speakers (Collier, 1989; Cummins, 1981; Hakuta, Butler, & Witt, 2000). ELs fall behind academically if they do not learn the content of the curriculum as they acquire English. This problem is exacerbated by the elimination of specialized sheltered and bilingual instruction programs designed to provide ELs with access to content instruction in those states with the highest populations of ELs (Markos, 2012). Therefore, ELs are mainstreamed via a "sink or swim" approach, as they are placed in classrooms, including science classrooms (Business-Higher Education Forum [BHEF], 2006; California Council on Science and Technology [CCST], 2007; Oakes et ah, 2004), with teachers who have limited abilities to address their needs in content instruction (Lucas & Grinberg, 2008; Markos, 2012).

A significant body of research on second-language acquisition has demonstrated that contextualized, content-based instruction in students' second language can enhance the language proficiency of English learners with no detriment to their academic learning (Cummins, 1981; Met, 1994; Stoddart, Solís, Tolbert, & Bravo, 2010; Thomas & Collier, 2012). The subject matter content provides a meaningful context for the learning of language structure and functions, and the language processes provide the medium for analysis and communication of subject matter knowledge. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.