According to a recent report by the Education Trust-West, one in five students in California’s K-12 schools are English learners (EL). Most often, these students come from homes where a different language is dominantly spoken and are therefore not able to communicate fluently or learn effectively in English. Through her research and practice, Professor of Education Ivannia Soto has offered a groundbreaking method to help these students advance academically.
In the report, Unlocking Learning II: Math as a Lever for English Learner (EL) Equity, the Education Trust-West highlighted Soto's EL shadowing process as a promising practice for students’ academic achievements.
The report notes that, "At San Gabriel High School in Los Angeles County, teachers use Ivannia Soto’s protocol for shadowing English learners to gain a greater understanding of the students’ experiences in and outside of class for a full day. Shadowing teachers note what students are doing in their classes and the extent to which their teachers are engaging them with opportunities for discourse and collaboration. These experiences help ‘to hold a mirror up’ to reflect how teacher practice and school policies impact English learners and the extent to which English learners have equitable access to rigorous courses."
By implementing Soto’s strategy, Alhambra Unified School District leaders decided to expand students’ access to college-required and advanced math courses while providing multiple support systems so that ELLs have equitable opportunities to take challenging courses.
Soto is executive director of the Institute for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching (ICLRT) at Whittier College, whose mission it is to promote relevant research and develop academic resources for ELLs and Standard English Learners via linguistically and culturally responsive teaching practices.