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SERVE Center - The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Connecting Research to Practice:
Response to Intervention and
English Language Learners

The REL Southeast at the SERVE Center and the Florida Islands Comprehensive Center co-hosted a full-day conference on Response to Intervention (RtI) for English language learners.  The conference’s purpose was to help the Florida Department of Education’s (FDOE) Response to Intervention (RtI) team align current research on linguistically and culturally responsive RtI systems with the current Florida RtI Plan. The aim of this alignment is to ensure appropriate core instruction and interventions for English language learners.

At the Response to Intervention (RtI) for English Language Learners Conference, discussions revolved around two key publications. The first was A Cultural, Linguistic, and Ecological Framework for Response to Intervention with English Language Learners published by the National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCRESt). The second was the IES Practice Guide, Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades.

Dr. Sylvia Linan-Thompson, associate director of the National Center for Research on the Educational Achievement and Teaching of English Language Learners (CREATE), discussed the findings and recommendations of two IES Practice Guides—(1) Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades and (2) Assisting Students Struggling with Reading: Response to Intervention (RtI) and Multi-Tier Intervention in the Primary Grades. Dr. Thompson aligned the recommendations to one another to help participants understand how reading recommendations for English language learners can work within an RtI system.

presentation  What Does Research Say About Effective Instructional Strategies for ELLs? presentation

Additionally, Dr. Janette Klingner, University of Colorado at Boulder, discussed challenges in implementing RtI with English language learners and provided participants with questions to consider when looking at interventions—What does “evidence-based” mean; with whom is the intervention most effective; who is implementing the intervention, for what purpose, and in what contexts? Dr. Klingner also discussed culturally and linguistically responsive RtI systems and some of the types of factors that influence them.

In addition to hearing from Drs. Linan-Thompson and Klingner, a panel discussion helped participants link research to practice. Panelists represented schools, districts, and various areas within the state education agency. The panelists discussed the main points heard throughout the day and implications for practice.

In the wake of this event focusing on services to English language learners in the RtI context, Florida continues to improve and expand upon its statewide implementation of the RtI plan. To further that improvement and expansion, participants agreed to continue the work highlighted by the conference and to cooperate across disciplines.

presentation  Challenges when Implementing RtI with English Language Learners presentation 

presentation  A Culturally and Linquistically Responsive RtI Framework presentation 

PDF  Reflection Questions


Additional Resources:

IES Practice GuideEffective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners
 in the Elementary Grades
.   PDF
The target audience for this IES Practice Guide is a broad spectrum of school practitioners such as administrators, curriculum specialists, coaches, staff development specialists and teachers who face the challenge of providing effective literacy instruction for English language learners in the elementary grades. The guide also aims to reach district-level administrators who develop practice and policy options for their schools.

SERVE Center web page  Visit our Response to Intervention Web page.

Website  Visit the IES What Works Clearinghouse for a complete listing of IES Practice Guides.

ELL student

Quotes from RtI event