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EL Education Enters Final Phase of National Teacher Development Study

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    April Hattori

Across the country, many school districts are making significant investments in professional development with little or no evidence of impact. Against this backdrop, EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) is testing an important idea — that research-based professional learning, combined with strong curriculum, can prepare teachers to lead the deep, meaningful, challenging learning experiences that result in high achievement for all students.

The groundbreaking "Teacher Potential Project" study, which involves a total of 71 schools in 12 states, is measuring the impact of EL Education's standards-aligned English Language Arts curriculum and teacher professional learning on middle and elementary school students. Focused on how coaching from experts, combined with the curriculum, can support new teachers as they learn the ropes, results of the study are expected to be released in December 2018.


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"In the past two years of the Teacher Potential Project, we've seen teachers embrace our professional learning and share support for students in developing deeper skills of close reading, effective evidence-based writing, collaboration and communication. Teachers report that they are more confident in their classrooms and their students are more engaged," said Christina Lesh, Program Director of EL Education's Teacher Potential Project. The Academy for Academics and Arts in Huntsville, AL is one of 53 schools that is new to the study this year. Principal Amy VanAllen is already seeing progress in the first weeks of using the curriculum. "Our students and teachers are thriving with the EL Education protocols [to promote student-to-student discussion] and engaging text. We also have even begun to use the EL Education tools in other subject areas during observations and coaching." 

A middle school teacher from Ida Jew Academy in San Jose, CA, which participated in the study last year, noted: "As a first year teacher, this curriculum has boosted my confidence in teaching middle school English. By following this curriculum, I see a difference in the engagement and excitement within my students from when we started out the year with a different program." 

EL Education is partnering with Mathematica Policy Research, the premier educational research organization on the study, which is funded by a U.S. Department of Education "Investing in Innovation" (i3) grant. 

"As the nation seeks solutions to equip teachers with the training and tools to prepare students for success in a changing world, this study, with its gold standard methodology, is generating rich data that will be useful as district and policy level leaders make decisions around what works in teacher professional development," said EL Education President & CEO Scott Hartl. 

The schools participating in the study this year are in the following school districts: 

  • Atlanta Public Schools (Georgia) 
  • Boston Public Schools (Massachusetts) 
  • Buncombe County School (North Carolina) 
  • Drew Central School District (Arkansas) 
  • Hermitage Central School District (Arkansas) 
  • Granite School District (Utah) 
  • Huntsville City Schools (Alabama) 
  • Kansas City Public Schools (Missouri) 
  • Monroe County Public Schools (Alabama) 
  • Rochester City School District (New York) 
  • Yonkers Public Schools (New York) 

More than six million educators have downloaded EL Education's Grades 3-8 English Language Arts curriculum, which has received top marks from EdReports.org, New York City, the State of Connecticut, the State of Washington, and EQuIP (Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products), an initiative by Achieve.org, designed to identify high-quality materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards. For more information on reviews of our curriculum, visit our curriculum website.