On May 15, 2012, the US Department of Education officially released a literature review conducted by edCount, LLC titled Language Instruction Educational Programs (LIEPs): A Review of the Foundational Literature. The review, part of a larger project titled Language Instruction Educational Programs (LIEPs): Lessons from the Research and Profiles of Promising Programs, examines the research literature on a range of topics that may factor into LIEP design and function, in order to support school districts in their decisions about how to choose appropriate LIEPs for their students’ needs.

The LIEP literature review, which draws on findings and recommendations from over 170 reports, articles, and books, provides information pertaining to six primary research areas:

  1. Theories of second-language acquisition. How is second language acquisition (SLA) theorized to occur, and how can or should this process inform or influence instruction or program design?
  2. The construct of academic English language. What is academic language, and why does it matter? How can instructors support and encourage ELs to acquire and use academic language?
  3. Models and considerations for LIEP design. What are the characteristics of different models, and how can or should these be actualized in implementation? What characteristics of a model may be variable, and which are critical to its success?
  4. Instructional practices and professional development. What specific practices and protocols can teachers adopt during their class instruction to support ELs’ acquisition of English or mastery of academic content? What are the content and components of promising professional development (PD) for teachers in LIEPs? How should PD be implemented and evaluated?
  5. School district, school and community culture. What contextual and environmental factors in a school district, school or community may impact a LIEP’s ability to meet the requirements of Title III? What cultural and demographic factors in a school district, school or community are important to consider in implementing a LIEP?
  6. Indicators and evaluation of success. What indicators might reflect whether a LIEP has been successfully implemented? What indicators would reflect effectiveness of the LIEP in terms of its own stated goals?

The review includes twelve overall findings, as well as specific findings and recommendations pertaining to each of the six research areas above. It also specifically investigates design and implementation factors relevant to LIEPs that pursue English-only models versus those that employ bilingual models. Overall, the review found that both approaches (ESL and bilingual) have the potential to support ELs in their academic achievement, and that ELs who receive some kind of language support or specialized instruction show better outcomes on various academic measures than those who receive no specific language learning support.

/edCount president Dr. Ellen Forte serves as the principal investigator for the LIEP project, which edCount is conducting in partnership with small, woman-owned business Synergy Enterprises, Inc. (SEI). edCount senior associate Dr. Sara Waring serves as edCount’s project director for LIEP, and policy associate Molly Faulkner-Bond served as the lead author on the literature review. This literature review will be followed by the release of a guide for practitioners about the selection, design, implementation and evaluation of LIEPs, to be released in January 2013.