Archived Information

Tried and True: September 1997--The information in this publication was current as of September 1997, and has not been updated since. Some services described in the publication may no longer be available.
[Instructional Content and Practice]

SEDL Follow Through Program

A Comprehensive Program for Language-Minority Children
in Kindergarten Through Third Grade

Developed and tested by the
Southwest Educational Development
Laboratory (SEDL)

What is the idea behind the SEDL Follow Through Program?

Originally supported with funding from the Department's Follow Through Program which ended in 1994, the SEDL Follow Through Program has continued its development and enhancement of this effort to support early childhood education. The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory was a forerunner in bilingual education when it developed some of the nation's first bilingual curriculum materials in the mid-1960s for its language development approach.

The SEDL program was designed to help ensure English-language development and academic progress for low-income, language-minority populations in elementary schools. The program is adapted to the needs of the sites using these materials. These language development strategies are integrated throughout the school day with regular classroom content rather than as a separate language focus. SEDL's comprehensive program helps educators build first- and second-language acquisition in three ways:

  1. by supplementing local curriculum with research-based instructional approaches;

  2. through professional development for teachers; and

  3. with active participation by parents.

The language development approach creates a positive learning environment through classroom arrangements, instructional organization, and management. Strategies include large- and small-group sessions, peer tutoring, paired learning, and individualized instruction.

What does research say about how this idea can help teaching and learning?

Language forms the core for both the strengths and weaknesses of students. While ascribing to the notion that language is thought, the language development approach operates under the assumption that language is key to communication, as well as a carrier and expresser of culture.

Research shows that children acquire language best through meaningful experiences. SEDL's language development approach has built-in provisions for integrating the language of the child into content areas traditionally disassociated from the study of English. Math and science lessons, for example, may be held in the language the child brings to the classroom or in English. There is always a language objective as well as a content objective.

Follow Through professionals strive to ensure that the student receives and internalizes concepts. Because the development of thought processes is essential to learning, and coping goes hand in hand with language acquisition, language development approach teachers are trained to create ways of communicating new concepts that can be understood and learned in any language. The same training applies to teaching analysis and problem solving.

SEDL's language development approach incorporates teaching and learning strategies developed from research on the nature of language and language acquisition processes. Such strategies provide for

The parent-involvement component is based on the premise that education should be a cooperative process involving the home, the school, and the community and that all parents can participate actively in their children's schooling. It places responsibility for parent involvement primarily on the school and encourages parent participation in decision making, school activities, and home study. It also provides for training of school staff and parents themselves, with parents helping to decide the focus of training.

How was this program tested?

The model has a long history of development, testing, and refinement, and has demonstrated increasingly positive results in evaluations. It was developed and has continued to be refined on the basis of

Percentile rankings of children participating in this program, relative to a normative sample, consistently have increased from kindergarten through third grade. Observation and self-report data verify that local SEDL Follow Through staff have kept abreast of current educational practices and research, thereby enhancing local teaching methods and professional growth.

Parent interview data indicate more involvement in their children's education and an increase in skills and knowledge needed to help their children and to create feelings of self-worth in their children.

Over the years, research has shown that many strategies used by the SEDL Follow Through program are just plain good teaching strategies. Now, many mainstream teachers are using Follow Through strategies in classrooms not concerned with bilingual problems.

What communities and states are using this program?

The SEDL Follow Through Program has been implemented in 27 schools in California, Louisiana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Lincoln School in Tulare, California, a continuous SEDL site for nearly 30 years, served as a Follow Through Resource Center.

What's involved in using this program in my school and community?

About 3 years are required for full implementation. An initial site visit by SEDL to explore goals, needs, and program requirements results in a proposal for initiating, expanding, and maintaining the implementation. Staff roles are assigned, and a schedule of implementation and monitoring activities is negotiated. In addition to the involvement of SEDL staff, local sites are expected to provide a project director, one or more teachers in whose classroom(s) the program will be implemented, a staff development specialist, and a parent-involvement coordinator.

Costs associated with implementing this program vary, depending on the components of the program being used.


Margarita Rivas
211 E. Seventh Street
Austin, TX 78701-3281
Phone: (512) 476-6861
Fax: (512) 476-2286

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