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Open Access Publications from the University of California

CREDE is a federally funded research and development program focused on improving the education of students whose ability to reach their potential is challenged by language or cultural barriers, race, geographic location, or poverty. More than 30 CREDE-funded research projects around the country have gathered data and tested curriculum models in wide-ranging settings and with diverse student populations-from classrooms with predominantly Zuni-speaking students in New Mexico to inner city schools in Florida to California elementary schools with large populations of native Spanish-speaking students. The findings from these projects are available here and on the CREDE web site.

Cover page of A National Study of School Effectiveness for Language Minority Students' Long-Term Academic Achievement

A National Study of School Effectiveness for Language Minority Students' Long-Term Academic Achievement


From 1996-2001, CREDE researchers Wayne Thomas and Virginia Collier conducted the "National Study of School Effectiveness for Language Minority Students' Long-Term Academic Achievement." Built on 14 years of related research, this study documents the academic achievement of ELLs over the long-term (4–12 years) and across content areas. It offers a much-needed overview of programmatic successes in the education of ELLs for policy makers.

The study collected data from five school districts throughout the United States. They included an inner-city urban district in the northwest, a large urban district in south central U.S., a mid-sized urban district in the southeast, and two rural districts in the northeast. Researchers collected records of individual ELL students for a minimum of 4 years of their education and analyzed achievement trends of those students. Records examined included those of students who remained in longer-term language support programs (i.e., 5–6 years), those in shorter-term programs (i.e., 1–3 years), and those who had exited or never entered such programs (i.e., receiving some years of their instruction in mainstream English medium classrooms).

These data have been analyzed in order to understand how effective varying programs, implemented with theoretical integrity and established logistical support, can be in preparing students for success throughout the duration of their academic experiences.

Cover page of Scaffold for School-Home Collaboration: Enhancing Reading and Language Development

Scaffold for School-Home Collaboration: Enhancing Reading and Language Development


School reform progresses too slowly to address effectively the unique needs of children and young adolescents who face academic challenges. The slow rate of change is compounded by a rapid increase in English language learners and an extreme shortage of teachers, particularly bicultural and bilingual special education teachers. In the CREDE project "Expanding the Knowledge Base on Teacher Learning and Collaboration: A Focus on Asian American English Language Learners," researchers explored ways to address these challenges through school-home collaboration. To engage parents, grandparents, siblings, and family friends more effectively learning and sharing ideas to sustain a student's learning, together researchers developed evening training sessions named "Family Literacy Nights."

Cover page of Linking Home and School Through Children's Questions That Followed Family Science Workshops

Linking Home and School Through Children's Questions That Followed Family Science Workshops


This research brief describes some preliminary findings from the CREDE research project, "At-Risk Preschoolers' Questions and Explanations: Science in Action at Home and in the Classroom," conducted in collaboration with the Family Science project of Life Lab Science at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Life Lab Science also collaborates with another CREDE project called LASERS (Language Acquisition through Science Education for Rural Schools). Together, these three projects conducted a set of Family Science workshops that comprise the focus of this research brief.

Cover page of Improving Classroom Instruction and Student Learning for Resilient and Non-resilient English Language Learners

Improving Classroom Instruction and Student Learning for Resilient and Non-resilient English Language Learners


Some English language learners (ELLs) do well in school despite coming from school and home environments that present many obstacles for learning. It is important to know why these students, who are at risk of academic failure, are resilient and successful in school while other ELLs from equally stressful environments are unsuccessful or non-resilient. This educational resiliency perspective is meaningful because it focuses on the predictors of academic success rather than on academic failure. It enables us to specifically identify those "alterable" factors that distinguish successful and less successful students. The thrust in this area of research is to extend previous studies that merely identified and categorized students at risk of failure and shift to studies that focus on identifying potential individual and school processes that lead to and foster success (Wang, Haertel, & Walberg, 1994; Winfield, 1991).

During the past 4 years of the CREDE project, "Improving Classroom Instruction and Student Learning for Resilient and Non-Resilient English Language Learners," we conducted research with approximately 1,000 fourth and fifth-grade students from 21 classrooms in three elementary schools identified as having large proportions of ELLs (i.e., more than 80%) as well as having students from high-poverty families (about 90% received free or reduced-cost lunches). Classroom teachers were asked to identify their population of students at risk (e.g., students from families of low socioeconomic status, living with a single parent, relative, or guardian). Students identified as "gifted or talented" or "special education" were excluded from the population in order to avoid potential effects related to ability differences. From the final pool of students at risk of failure, teachers selected up to three "resilient" and three "non-resilient" students in their class. "Resilient" students were high achieving on both standardized achievement tests and daily school work, were very motivated, and had excellent attendance. "Non-resilient" students were low achieving on both standardized achievement tests and daily school work, were not motivated, and had poor attendance. The following sections briefly summarize some of the key findings from our work as we focused on the concept of resiliency. 10% of the time. Both resilient and non-resilient students were observed interacting with their teacher only about 10% of the time and with other students only about 8% of the time. Resilient students were observed being "on-task" about 83% of the time, whereas non-resilient students were observed being "on-task" only 63% of the time.

Cover page of Leading for Diversity: How School Leaders Achieve Racial and Ethnic Harmony

Leading for Diversity: How School Leaders Achieve Racial and Ethnic Harmony


"People would like to see our race problem disappear. And the way they think it's going to disappear is by not talking about it. But the real way you make it disappear is by talking about it, learning about it, and understanding it, and then you'll see a change, not just by ignoring it." – a 12th grade student

The Leading for Diversity research project emerged from a Principals' Forum developed by ARC Associates in 1995. Participating principals expressed a need for successful strategies to implement in their schools: strategies to dispel racial tensions, class conflict, and violence (particularly violence related to race or ethnicity); to create a vision that includes students of diverse backgrounds; and to increase staff members' understanding of cultural differences. These principals were among a growing number of educators aware of a lack of attention to diversity issues in the preparation of school leaders. Administrative preparation programs have traditionally emphasized management skills (Fullan 1999) and have not given adequate attention to the need to mediate the new diversity that characterizes many urban and suburban schools (Contreras, 1992). The Leading for Diversity work builds on Allport's theory of equal status contact (1954), Maslow's hierarchy of needs (1968), theories of racial identity development (Tatum, 1997), and multicultural inclusion theory (Banks, 1993) in an effort to integrate diversity issues in the theory and practice of leadership.

To inform the future preparation of school leaders, CREDE researchers at ARC designed a 3-year study to document the approaches of school leaders who are proactive in addressing racial/ethnic tensions in schools and in encouraging positive interethnic relations. Although the study focused on race/ethnic relations, we assume there is an underlying commonality among all forms of intolerance and oppression, whether people are the subject of harassment because of race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical disabilities, or any other kind of "difference."

This research brief presents six of the key findings from the study. The researchers used a nomination process to select 21 schools representing different levels (e.g., elementary, high) and geographic regions of the U.S. To be considered for the study, schools had to have (1) at least three ethnic groups; (2) a tangible history of interethnic conflict, either in the school or community; and (3) leadership that was implementing innovative approaches to prevent racial/ethnic conflict and improve interethnic relations. The researchers conducted qualitative case studies of these schools to describe approaches used by school leaders in different contexts, collecting data that included interviews with 1009 individuals, observations of 441 classes and other school and community events, and relevant school documents and records.

Cover page of School/Community Partnerships to Support Language Minority Student Success

School/Community Partnerships to Support Language Minority Student Success


On their own, schools and families may not be able to support the academic success of every student (Kirst, 1991). In particular, language minority students, including immigrants and the U.S. born children of immigrants, may not receive appropriate educational services due to a mismatch between the languages and cultures of the schools and those of their communities. To enhance support for these students, many schools have partnered with community-based organizations (CBOs) groups committed to helping people obtain health, education, and other basic human services (Dryfoos, 1998). The programs they operate promise to assist students in ways that lie beyond the schools' traditional methods (Dryfoos, 1998; Heath & McLaughlin, 1991; Melaville, 1998). This research brief will provide some findings of a national study of school/CBO partnerships.

Researchers from the Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE) collected descriptive data on partnerships that promote the academic achievement of language minority students. After a nomination process, 62 of 100 identified partnerships were selected to study. Thirty-one completed a survey and 17 of these partnerships were visited. Survey and site visit data indicate that the majority serve clients who are all or nearly all English language learners. One third of the 31 serve only Spanish speakers. The others serve multilingual populations in which speakers of Spanish are most numerous, followed by Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, Chinese languages, Lao, and Tongan. Typically, students are referred to the programs based on teachers' concerns, grade point average, testing results, limited English proficiency, attendance, or personal and family problems—but students also enroll voluntarily.

Three types of CBOs join with schools to support language minority students:

• Ethnic organizations. For example, the Filipino Community of Seattle partners with the Seattle Public Schools to operate the Filipino Youth Empowerment Project.

• CBOs whose only function is a school partnership. The Vaughn Family Center in Pacoima, CA was established to partner with one elementary school.

• Multi-purpose service organizations. The Chinatown Service Center operates the Castelar Healthy Start program at a Los Angeles elementary school with tutoring for students as well as health and other family services.

Most of these CBOs are nonprofit organizations.

Cover page of Teaching Secondary Language Minority Students

Teaching Secondary Language Minority Students


CREDE's Five Standards for Effective Teaching and Learning express the principles of effective pedagogy for all students. For mainstream students, the Standards describe the ideal; for at-risk students, the Standards are vital (Dalton, 1998). While the work contributing to the standards articulated in CREDE's projects comes from several theoretical systems, CREDE's Standards are stated in the language of sociocultural theory.

I. Teacher and Students Producing Together (Joint Productive Activity)

II. Developing Language Across the Curriculum (Language Development)

III. Making Meaning: Connecting School to Students' Lives (Contextualization)

IV. Teaching Complex Thinking (Cognitive Challenge)

V. Teaching Through Interactive Discussions (Instructional Conversation)

In this research brief, we focus on language development as well as academic development for English language learners. Teachers are concerned about covering content and curriculum, and they often ignore students' language development, which is critical for academic success. For secondary school learners, regardless of program (e.g., early exit primary language, sheltered instruction), there are some features necessary for language development. Teachers should

• understand the language needs of students,

• explicitly plan to meet those needs,

• deliver instruction, and

• assess students' comprehension.

We discuss each feature, using a case study to illustrate what the teachers need to know, consider, and do.

Cover page of Tracking Untracking: Evaluating the Effectiveness of an Educational Innovation

Tracking Untracking: Evaluating the Effectiveness of an Educational Innovation


Tracking contributes significantly to the achievement gap between low-income, minority students and their more affluent peers. Ethnic and linguistic minority students from low-income backgrounds frequently remain in general and vocational education classes. As a result, they do not become eligible for college enrollment. Achievement Via Individual Determination (AVID), an educational reform program based in San Diego, "untracks" low-achieving ethnic and language minority students by placing both low- and high-achieving students in the same rigorous academic program. The program gives students explicit instruction in the hidden curriculum of the school–the implicit educational rules and expectations, such as knowledge about what courses to take for the college-bound, what teachers to take or avoid, the importance of tests, and how to study– and helps the students make the transition to college. The AVID program has successfully prepared under-represented students for college: from 1988 to 1992, 94% of AVID students enrolled in college, compared to 56% of all high school graduates (AVID Center, 1999). African Americans and Latinos enrolled in college in numbers that exceeded local and national averages (Mehan, Villanueva, Hubbard, & Lintz, 1996; Mehan, Hubbard, Lintz, & Villanueva, 1994).

As AVID is being adopted by school districts through-out the country, researchers at the Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE) are examining the process by which a "design team," in this case AVID Center, exports its prototype of educational reform to new settings–three schools in California, two in Kentucky and two in Virginia. This "scaling up" study focuses on a) the interrelationship between multiple contexts of implementation, b) the degree of variation in the implementations of AVID guidelines at the new sites, and c) the contribution of institutional processes that facilitate or inhibit academic success.

This research builds upon work in the sociocultural tradition, especially Rogoff (1995) and Tharp (1997), who identify personal, interpersonal, and community levels or "planes" of interaction, and McLaughlin & Talbert (1993), who depict organizations in concentric circles, where the classroom is in the center, surrounded by the school, the district, and the community. It extends this work by explicitly calling attention to political and economic conditions that enable possibilities and impose constraints on education in general and school reform in particular.

Cover page of Standards for Professional Development: A Sociocultural Perspective

Standards for Professional Development: A Sociocultural Perspective


Much research and theory has focused on improving the academic success of students at-risk for failure due to poverty, limited English proficiency, and/or background knowledge and experiences which do not map easily onto school expectations. Several studies have led to significant advances in understanding basic learning processes, including the social and cultural foundations of cognitive development. Rather than focusing on presumed student deficits, researchers have focused on ways that schools can scaffold learning, build on student characteristics as resources, and mitigate risk factors. The Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE) has synthesized this work with five standards for effective teaching: joint productive activity, language and literacy development, contextualizing teaching and learning, complex thinking, and instructional conversation (Dalton, 1998).

These standards can also be applied to professional development activities. Of course, adults and children learn differently. For example, adults have more extensive and more organized background knowledge than young children. They may be more strategic in how they learn, may have different motivations for learning, and may be more aware of their learning so that they monitor and self-regulate their learning better. However, the principles that describe effective teaching and learning for students in classrooms should not differ from those for adults in general and teachers in particular.

Some of the research studies on improving educational outcomes for students and improving schooling have concluded that effective instructional environments depend upon well-trained, reflective teachers who are adequately supported in terms of professional development. Rather than trying to develop teacher-proof curriculum and teaching practices, recent work has focused on fostering professional communities of learners and lifelong support programs. The current emphasis is to embed knowledge and skill acquisition within a framework of teacher growth and development, collaborative programs, and interactive research within a community of learners (see Sprinthall, Remain, & Thies-Sprinthall, 1996 for a recent review).

This Research Brief discusses the five standards in terms of sociocultural theory and explains how each standard can support the learning process underlying professional development efforts.