National Science Teaching Association: Case Study 4 - English Language Learners and the Next Generation Science Standards

The number of English language learners in schools across the nation has increased dramatically over the past decade.

At the same time the gap in science proficiency between English language learners and non-English language learners has widened. As a result of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) legislation, school districts are held more accountable for English language learners’ progress and must seek ways to provide equal access to education. The Next Generation Science Standards sets higher expectations in science for all students, and teachers of English language learners must employ effective strategies to deepen understanding of science while learning English. The literature indicates five areas where teachers can support science and language for English language learners: (1) literacy strategies for all students, (2) language support strategies with English language learners, (3) discourse strategies with English language learners, (4) home language support, and (5) home culture connections. The vignette highlights how these strategies promote English language learners’ understanding of disciplinary core ideas, scientific and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts as described by the Next Generation Science Standards.

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