Enhancing Education for English Learners through Parental Involvement


William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net

URL for this press release:  http://tinyurl.com/d6nygvd


BOULDER, CO (March 19, 2013) –The seventh in a series of two- and three-page briefs summarizing current findings in education research urges policymakers to adopt a series of measures that would welcome and involve the parents of English learners in U.S. schools to improve the achievement of those students.

The brief is written by Dr. William Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

The enrollment of English language learners (ELLs) in U.S. schools has more than doubled over the last two decades, most of whom are native born. The data show we deny these children equitable opportunities to learn to the detriment of them and their communities, and to the detriment of our larger societal health.

Mathis points to an earlier NEPC policy brief by Beatriz Arias and Milagros Morillo-Campbell that outlines a series of best practices for schools to establish two-way communication with ELL families and to involve those families in the life of the school, in community collaboration, in school governance, and in their children’s schoolwork. To accomplish this will require the school to embrace the culture of the community, both in its activities calendar and in its interactions with the parents. School personnel should communicate with parents in their native languages and also provide parents avenues to learn English, as well as techniques to help them with their children’s education.

To these recommendations for schools, Mathis adds recommendations for policymakers. Adequacy studies identifying resource inequities in serving ELL students need to be updated and turned into legislation to rectify those problems. He also points to two additional policy needs: to provide adequate professional development that embraces and builds upon the students’ cultural backgrounds; and to review and revise state laws and regulations so that school evaluation systems adequately account for high concentrations of ELL students. States must ensure staff, funding, and instructional materials are all of sufficient quality to address ELL students’ needs.

Mathis’s three-page brief is part of Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking, a multipart brief that takes up a number of important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research. Each section focuses on a different issue, and its recommendations to policymakers are based on the latest scholarship.

The brief is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Find William Mathis’s brief on the NEPC website at:

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This brief is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/