A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

School Reform and Student Diversity - September 1995

A. Preface

Children who come from cultural and linguistic minority backgrounds often founder in American schools. Many do not gain a solid grounding in English reading and writing or in mathematics and science by the time they enter high school. As young adults they are therefore inadequately prepared for higher education or for all but the most menial employment. The costs of their wasted potential are unacceptable -- both to the young people themselves and to U.S. society as a whole.

Educating language minority students to the high standards we expect of all children is a challenge. While the full dimensions of that challenge are not yet well understood, it is nonetheless clear that little progress will be made unless the educational and organizational practices at many of todays public schools are reformed.

In 1990, the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) of the US Department of Education issued an REP to identify and study exemplary school reform efforts involving the education of language minority students. The REP directed the study to focus on language arts in grades 4 through 6 and math/science in grades 6 through 8. It is neither desirable nor possible to separate the LEP program at these grade levels from the entire experience of students at a school. Therefore, the study analyzes the context of school reform and how that school reform affects the entire curriculum and program of instruction for IEP students.

This document, Volume I: Findings and Conclusions, is one of a series ofthree volumes. This volume briefly reviews the context and methodology of the study, summarizes key features of each of the case studies of eight exemplary schools that serve a high proportion of limited English proficient (IEP) students, presents analyses of case study findings across these sites, and offers policy recommendations. The case study sites are described in detail in Volume II: The Case Studies. The final report, Volume III: Technical Appendix, presents the research design and methodology of the study. The study team also commissioned research papers, which have been edited and published as a book, Language and Learning: Educating Linguistically Diverse Students (Beverly McLeod, editor, SUNY Press, 1994).

OERI has funded eleven other companion studies that examine different aspects of school reform. The entire set of reports will thus provide a comprehensive description and analysis of reform from the empirical perspective of outstanding practices in the field.

[Title page] [Table of Contents] [Acknowledgments]