English learners can dramatically improve their science skills when teachers blend science lessons with language instruction, according to a new report released by an Oakland education nonprofit.
The report identified six districts with innovative science programs – ranging from Calipatria Unified in Imperial County to Oak Grove in San Jose. It found that in those schools, English learners scored close to, or in some cases even exceeded, their English-proficient peers on standardized science tests. In some cases, they scored three times as high as English learners at schools where science is taught very little, not at all, or in a way that’s difficult for non-English speakers to follow.
“You don’t have to wait until a kid is fluent in English to teach them science,” said Sarah Feldman, coauthor of the report along with Verónica Flores Malagon. “If you weave together science and language, kids can learn it now and in fact do very well. That’s pretty amazing.”
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