Ensuring Professional Capacity to Support English Language Learners

Ensuring Professional Capacity to Support English Language Learners
Ensuring Professional Capacity to Support English Language Learners

Webinar Material(s)

Slideshow Presentation


The recently signed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states with greater flexibility to design accountability systems that use multiple measures of assessment beyond test scores. Educators and policymakers alike are recognizing the urgent need for more sophisticated curricula and assessments to truly prepare students for success in a global economy. English Learners (ELs), a continuously growing share of the student population, will particularly benefit from meaningful learning and re-imagined accountability systems. In order to do this successfully, however, it will be necessary to boost professional capacity among schools and educators. This webinar provided information and tools about building professional capacity to better support students, particularly ELLs. Additionally, this webinar: highlighted the latest research on ensuring positive outcomes for ELs; shared concrete professional development strategies for teachers and administrators;  examined policy supports at the federal, state, and local levels; and explored the inherent challenges in ensuring sufficient qualified teachers for ELs.

Presenter Biographies

Susan Profile picture formattedSusan Fitzgerald is currently the Project Director for Sanger Unified School District, located in Central California. Susan has worked in the educational field for 30 years and has a wealth of private and public school experience in the preschool thru 12th grades. Her “on the floor” practices (including teaching in project-based, self-contained, bilingual, special day, and special education classrooms) have provided her valuable expertise. Her career pathway has led to such positions as literacy specialist, curriculum support provider, principal, English learner services coordinator, district project director, and as a coach and mentor for administrators and teachers. Susan has received degrees and credentials from CSU Fresno, California in multiple subjects, a bilingual credential (Spanish), and a Masters in educational administration. Her certifications include Administrative Coaching, ASL Interpreting, and Guadalajara Language and Cultural Studies.

Her interest, experiences, and emphasis in the studies of English learners and native speakers have provided her opportunities to support students, teachers, and administrators. This emphasis has also allowed her to network with researchers and educators throughout the United States, in an effort to provide all children opportunity for an equitable education.

Jessica Bio Pic formattedJessica Kelly is an instructional coach at Pan American International High School at Monroe in the Bronx, NY.  She is a graduate of Internationals Network for Public Schools I-START Urban Residency Program at Long Island University.  Her residency prepared her for the challenges she would face teaching English language learners in a high needs setting.  She effectively designed and implemented a combined language in content curriculum and taught English through content as a social studies teacher.  Currently in her role as instructional coach, Jessica is a mentor and ambassador for the Internationals’ approach to new and experienced teachers, providing professional development creating opportunities for teachers to design meaningful, interdisciplinary, scaffolded curricula that align to the Internationals’ core principals.

Joe Photo (2) formattedJoe Luft is Executive Director of Internationals Network for Public Schools. As Executive Director, Joe is responsible for growing and strengthening Internationals Network’s proven approach to providing outstanding educational opportunities for English language learners.  He has spent his career in public education and the nonprofit sector focused on the needs of English language learners.  Before assuming the Executive Director position, Joe served as Deputy Director of Internationals Network. Joe was the founding principal of the Flushing International High School in Queens, NY and a teacher at the Brooklyn International High School.  Joe began his teaching career in the Washington, DC Public Schools.  Joe holds a B.A. in History and Hispanic Studies from Connecticut College and a M.A. in ESL/Secondary Education from The George Washington University in Washington DC. He is a graduate of the New Leaders for New Schools urban principal preparation program and completed his residency at The International High School at LaGuardia Community College in 2004.

Martha photo formattedDr. Martha I. Martinez works at the Oregon Department of Education as an Education Specialist in the Equity Unit. Her work involves overseeing two state grants to expand and improve dual language immersion programs across the state, assisting the state transition to ELPA21 (a new English Language Proficiency assessment that is being developed by a multi-state consortium), and contributing to state and national forums on English Learner policy, research and assessment matters. Her previous experience includes educational research, consulting, and policy work with two national nonprofits (MDRC and Jobs for the Future), the California Assembly Education Committee, and the University of Oregon’s Behavioral Research & Teaching center. She also has experience teaching at the university and secondary levels.  She has received several fellowships, including as a Future of Minority Studies/Mellon Foundation Fellow, a California State Assembly Fellow, and a Teaching Fellow at the Marin Country Day School. Martha received an M.A. in Education and her teaching credential from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Educational Methodology, Policy and Leadership from the University of Oregon, where her dissertation focused on two-way immersion schools.

Karen photo formattedDr. Karen Thompson is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education at Oregon State University. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics from Stanford University and an M.A. in Education from the University of California, Berkeley, where she also earned an elementary bilingual teaching credential. Prior to entering academia, Dr. Thompson spent more than a decade working with English language learners in California public schools as a bilingual teacher, after-school program coordinator, and school reform consultant. Her research focuses on how policy, curriculum, and instruction interact to shape the experiences of English language learners in U.S. schools. She has extensive experience partnering with education agencies to analyze longitudinal data about ELLs in novel ways that inform policy and practice. She currently serves as PI for the Oregon English Learner Alliance, a researcher-practitioner partnership between Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Education that is funded by the Institute of Education Sciences and the Spencer Foundation. Her work has been published in Educational Researcher and the American Educational Research Journal, among other venues.



The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.