Historically, English language learner (ELL) instruction has primarily focused on reading and writing. The reasons for this are twofold: 1) Reading and writing are the most obvious, immediate learning needs, and 2) federal and state reclassification requirements are focused on these subjects. Conventional thinking says that literacy must be the primary focus, and that when literacy scores rise, they will pull up math scores alongside them.
The truth is a little more complex. As a result of this literacy-first focus, by the time ELLs become proficient readers in English, they are often many years behind in math. Middle school students are...
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