Culminating Project Title
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.
Educational Administration and Higher Education
School of Education
Dr. James Johnson
Dr. Kim Hiel
Dr. Frances Kayona
Dr. Amy Young
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Keywords and Subject Headings
English Learners, Multilingual Learners, Best Practices, High Language Growth, English Learner best practice, English Learner strategies
Multilingual learners are K-12 students who speak an additional language to English and have been screened and identified as “lack[ing] the necessary English skills to participate fully in academic classes taught in English” (Minnesota Statute 124D.59, subd. 2). With all of the variability in multilingual learners, the multilingual learner population is the fastest-growing population of public school students in the US (McKeon, 2005). In the fall of 2016, 4.9 million students in the United States were identified as multilingual learners, which is 9.6 percent of the total US student population (US Department of Education, 2019). In Minnesota during the 2017-2018 school year, 73,128 students, or 8.5 percent identified as English learners (Minnesota Department of Education, 2019).
There is a legal and legislative history that exists both nationally and within Minnesota in support of multilingual learners and equitable education rights (Scanlan & López, 2015). In Minnesota, all school districts enrolling multilingual learners must implement an educational program that meets the linguistic needs of the students (Minn. Stat. § 124D.61, 2018). Though language programs are critical to the success of multilingual learners, school and district leadership is second only to classroom teaching as a major influence on student learning (Leithwood, Day, Sammons, Harris, & Hopkins, 2006).
The study aimed to address the limited research on best practices of Minnesota schools with higher than average multilingual learner language growth as measured by language development assessments. The mixed methods study examined the common practices of leaders in schools identified under ESSA as achieving high language growth through qualitative and quantitative data from school administrators and multilingual program coordinators/lead teachers from four elementary schools in Minnesota. This data was evaluated using the Elfers and Stritikus (2014) framework of multilingual learner programming. It also identified the barriers encountered by the schools in implementing multilingual learner programs.
Findings suggested that the most utilized programming components with the highest average implementation were: Professional development targets classroom teachers, Support data-based discussions of individual student progress, and Use data to identify areas for improvement. Commonalities outside of the Elfers and Stritikus framework included building relationships, communication, focus on writing, pull-out instruction, asset-based inclusion, and administrator support and knowledge of multilingual programs. Differences between school practices included common curriculums, focused core instruction, multilingual teachers being multilingual learners, and personalized learning. The main barriers identified by participants were around time, funding/staffing, bias, and the strategies to overcome the barriers centered on intentionality and advocacy.
Anderson, Gwen Rosha, "Schools to Learn From: Lessons From Minnesota Schools With High English Learner Language Growth" (2020). Culminating Projects in Education Administration and Leadership. 70.