During the last 6 years, Delaware has had an increase of 3,459 students, or 71%, in the number of English language learners (ELLs) in the educational system (Delaware Department of Education, 2001, p. 8; 2006, p. 5). The New Castle School District (a pseudonym) has experienced similar growth regarding its ELL population. In 2000, the district had only 275ELLs, while in 2007 it had 849 (Delaware Department of Education, 2001; 2007). The number of ELLs continues to grow, and no longer can the English as second language (ESL) teachers be the only educators responsible for these students’ learning. Regular classroom teachers need to assist ELLs in language learning and utilize research-based instruction appropriate for these learners. However, manyteachers lack the knowledge and training to reach these students and help them with the unique challenges they face in the U.S. educational system. In 2007, the New Castle School District decided to implement the sheltered instruction observation protocol (SIOP) model developed by Echevarría, Vogt, and Short (2004, p. 1) as an instructional approach that would suit the ELLs’ needs. The districtprovided professional development to all ESL teachers and on a voluntary basis to regular classroom teachers. The total number of teachers involved in this process was 43.
After 2 years of SIOP professional development and coaching, the district adopted a new vision regarding ELLs: The district decided to place all ELL students in an inclusion program, which involves making the regular classroomteachers responsible for ELL students’ learning and using the ESL staff as interventionists. As a result, some ELL students have teachers who have been trained and coached in the SIOP model, while others have teachers who lack such training and knowledge. SIOP training commenced in the high school as a grade level initiative. In addition, one elementary school in the district piloted the model as awhole school endeavor through coaching and professional learning communities. Among the rest of the schools in the district, only the school where this study was conducted continued with SIOP training beyond the initial training period. However, SIOP training in this school was only on a voluntary basis.
The SIOP model was designed for middle and high school students who are atthe intermediate or advanced level of language proficiency in a sheltered instruction setting (Echevarría et al., 2004). However, the New Castle School District implemented the SIOP model in an immersion setting at the elementary level and with students at all levels of proficiency, including students who should be in newcomer programs and who have practically no English language skills. Noresearch has demonstrated that this model is appropriate for young ELLs, who are still developing the language skills necessary to use the strategies suggested by the SIOP model. In other words, this model may function differently with students who are at the beginning stages of language acquisition.
Quasi-experimental studies regarding the use of the SIOP model at the elementary level consist ofinconclusive results: Miner’s (2006) study titled, Fostering Teacher Efficacy for Teaching Elementary English Language Learning Students Using Sheltered instruction Observation protocol and Systems-Level Supports and Read’s study titled, The Impact of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) on the instructional practices of Elementary School Teachers and the Reading Achievement ofEnglish Language Learners. Miner (2006) and Read (2008) investigated the SIOP model and its impact on third-, fourth- and fifth-grade non-ELL students’ and ELLs’ state test scores. Both studies implemented the SIOP model for only a year in an immersion setting. Read (2008) found that students in the treatment group did show gains in their test scores and suggested the SIOP model could have promising...