Despite obstacles, programs exist to increase the engagement of parents whose children are English Language Learners

Contact: Teri Battaglieri – (517) 293-2940;
M. Beatriz Arias – (480) 965-6895;

EAST LANSING, Mich., Jan. 28, 2008 – Parents of English Language Learners face “daunting barriers” to becoming engaged with their children’s schools and education, but schools and policy makers can and should respond with a variety of measures to increase parental involvement, according to a new policy brief funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The brief, “Promoting ELL Parental Involvement: Challenges in Contested Times,” was written by M. Beatriz Arias and Milagros Morillo-Campbell, both of Arizona State University.

English Language Learners (ELLs) account for more than 10% of the student population today in the United States and in the last decade have become increasingly isolated from English proficient students, whom they remain behind on standard measures of achievement.

Given that gap, “it is very important to identify practices that may improve ELL parental involvement and thus student achievement,” Arias and Morillo-Campbell write. “Yet many programs make little effort to promote ELL parental involvement, defining parental involvement only in terms of the schools’ needs or in terms of a deficit-based perception of ELL families.”

In the brief, the authors describe today’s ELL population, and then identify five kinds of barriers to greater involvement on the part of the parents of ELL students.

Arias and Morillo-Campbell then go on to identify and examine the characteristics of successful traditional and non-traditional programs designed to foster ELL parental involvement. Programs highlighted in the brief include those in Massachusetts, California and Arizona.

Based in part on the successful programs identified in their brief, Arias and Morillo-Campbell offer a series of recommendations, urging that policy makers:

Find “Promoting ELL Parental Involvement: Challenges in Contested Times,” by M. Beatriz Arias and Milagros Morillo-Campbell on the web at:

The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to identify, develop, support, publish and widely disseminate empirically sound research on education policy and practices designed to improve the quality of public education for all students within the Great Lakes Region. 

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