Case Study: Stockton, CA focuses on teacher training to meet English learner needs with new math curriculum

Twenty-eight (28) percent of students within Stockton Unified School District are classified as English Learners (EL). The district recognizes that in order for it to live up to its promise of education equity and opportunity, it must meet the needs of their English learners (ELs).

This commitment to ELs is reflected in the district’s Master Plan for English Learners, which - among other things - includes a focus on curriculum, core materials, and teacher support.

To help meet the goals in their Master Plan, Stockton Unified adopted their new math curriculum, and partnered with Pivot CORE and the English Learner Success Forum (ELSF). The partnership aimed to ensure that teachers were assessing and integrating EL needs as part of this new curriculum. [Pivot/Core supported rollout of new curriculum, instructional strategies to support math achievement in the district at large (not necessarily just ELs)]

Pivot CORE and ELSF provided coaching and professional learning to 14 teachers across four middle schools in Stockton Unified. Teachers met on a monthly basis to provide observations and feedback to help strengthen each other's work, often called critical friendship. Teachers that were part of this professional learning community presented the materials they developed and built in reflection opportunities to hear from others on how these materials encouraged engagement and participation from EL students.

They reviewed the process and flow in the materials and discussed whether they met the goals they originally intended. Teachers reported that the cycle of inquiry allowed them to strengthen their materials and teaching. Having each serve as an observer to others allowed them to think about the critical things they might not always think about when they are on the other side.

Some of the things that teachers created and zeroed in on as part of this professional learning community included:

  • creating more opportunities for student discourse so students develop their language skills,
  • creating discourse cards to help students break down complex concepts,
  • focusing on sentence starters, and
  • ensuring that there is integration between math and English materials.
See our Bounce Cards resources for more.

The goal is that the lessons and learnings from this professional learning community continue to support the way teachers address the needs of their ELs in core materials.

Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages

The mission of the English Learners Success Forum (ELSF) is to collaborate with field-leading researchers, district leaders, teachers, content creators, and education funders to improve the supply and accessibility of high-quality K-12 mainstream instructional materials that address the linguistic and cultural needs of ELs while building smart demand to reach educators at scale – all with the goal of providing ELs full access to grade-level content and quality learning. Unlike most efforts that aim to improve EL learning outcomes, ELSF focuses exclusively on ensuring that full-year core instructional materials guide teachers in addressing these students’ varying needs.


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