Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Against a backdrop of increasing BPS ELL enrollment, district ELL leadership transitions, state and federal policies affecting ELL education, and with the knowledge that many teachers and administrators within the Boston Public Schools are expert practitioners with ELL students, we addressed the following research questions:

  • In which BPS schools were ELL students performing at a consistently high level or showing steady improvement during SY2006-SY2009?
  • What were some of the practices that these schools’ staffs credited with their success with ELL students during SY2006-SY2009?
  • Which of the practices identified by school staff were shared among the selected schools?

Through case study analysis, we found that principals and Language Acquisition Team facilitators played key roles in vision and implementation of ELL best practices, including creating professional learning communities and providing professional development; that shared cultural and linguistic experiences among staff and families were prevalent; and that staff cultural competence translated into increased family engagement, quality instructional practices, and understanding of the needs of the whole child. We also found that ELL students received the standard district curriculum, and that all teachers were knowledgeable about how to modify instruction for academic language acquisition. The purpose of this report is to inform the district and other schools not only about which schools were most successful during the study period, but also to share detailed information that may be disseminated widely so that staff in other schools may consider the lessons and practices for adaptation in their own schools.


This report, Learning from Consistently High Performing and Improving Schools for English Language Learners in Boston Public Schools, and its companion report, Improving Educational Outcomes of English Language Learners in Schools and Programs in Boston Public Schools, are part of a larger project, Identifying Success in Schools and Programs for English Language Learners in Boston Public Schools, commissioned by the Boston Public Schools as part of the process of change set in motion by the intervention of the state and the federal governments on behalf of Boston’s English language learners. The project was conducted at the request of the Office for English Language Learners and is a collaboration among this Office, the Center for Collaborative Education, and the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston. It was conducted under the leadership of principal investigators Miren Uriarte and Rosann Tung and by the following members of the research team: Michael Berardino, Jie Chen, Virginia Diez, Laurie Gagnon, Faye Karp, Sarah Rustan, and Pamela Stazesky. This report and its companion report may be downloaded at and

Tung et al 2011 Executive Summary.pdf (1048 kB)
Learning from Consistently -- EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

CCE Gaston Case Study_Ellis ES.pdf (1133 kB)
“A Perfect Storm”: A Steadily Improving School for for English Language Learners. David A. Ellis Elementary School Case Study.

CCE Gaston Case Study_Excel HS.pdf (1227 kB)
“A Haven for Vietnamese Newcomers”: A Steadily Improving School for English Language Learners. Excel High School Case Study.

CCE Gaston Case Study_Quincy.pdf (1133 kB)
“A Community School and Language Development Center”: A Consistently High Performing School for English Language Learners. Josiah Quincy Elementary School Case Study.

CCE Gaston Case Study_Sarah Greenwood.pdf (1091 kB)
“Tengo un sueño / I have a dream”: A Consistently High Performing School for English Language Learners. Sarah Greenwood School Case Study.



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