January 5, 2015

EDC Awarded $3 million to Support English Learners in Hartford Public Schools

WALTHAM, MA | EDC has been awarded $3 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) to lead a project designed to boost the academic success of pre-K through Grade 1 English learners in Hartford, Connecticut. The project will be known as Literacy and Academic Success for English Learners through Science, or LASErS.

Hartford serves more English learners than any other Connecticut district. Surveys show that 18 percent of students were identified as English learners in 2012–13, with 40 percent living in homes where English is not the primary language. With major support from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, EDC will partner with the Hartford Public Schools, Capitol Region Education Council, Connecticut Science Center, William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, and Yale Child Study Center to support schools and families in enhancing the early learning of these young students.

“LASErS addresses one of the biggest educational challenges that our country faces—how to help young English learners reach their potential,” said EDC Senior Research Scientist Jess Gropen. “This project does so in a creative way by using science language learning.”

To support students’ literacy and language development, LASErS will provide teachers with intensive professional development and support instructional coaches with online training. The project will also engage families in their children’s early science and literacy learning through classroom explorations, family events at school and at the Connecticut Science Center, and family toolkits to extend science exploration at home.

The new approach draws on three research-based factors:

  1. English learners benefit from a variety of communication opportunities, in and out of the classroom.
  2. Cultures and home languages must be appreciated, respected, and used to support learning.
  3. Language, literacy, and cognitive development are accelerated when engaged in science learning.

“This work builds on our decades of experience fostering young children’s early science and literacy learning and draws on the significant strengths of our Connecticut partners,” said EDC Vice President Sheila Skiffington. “Together, we will work with state leaders to create a program that can be sustained and expanded to serve young English learners and their families throughout the state.”

For more information about the EDC professional development model on which LASErS is based, visit Foundations of Science Literacy. Learn more about EDC’s work in early childhood education.

EDC designs, implements, and evaluates programs to improve education, health, and economic opportunity worldwide. Visit www.edc.org.