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English Learner Education

Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE)

Each year, Massachusetts schools enroll an increasing and diverse number of English learners (ELs) with limited or interrupted formal education. Students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE) often possess a variety of school readiness skills, sociolinguistic proficiencies, content knowledge, and academic ways of thinking different from students who have consistently attended Massachusetts schools.

Understanding and Supporting Students with Limited or Interrupted Education (SLIFE) in Massachusetts: A Multi-Year Research Project

In Spring 2022, the Office of Language Acquisition partnered with the Center for Applied Linguistics CAL) to begin a multi-year research project designed to better understand SLIFE, to synthesize national trends and best practices, and ultimately, to support the state in meeting the academic and socio-emotional needs of these students.

The first goal of this project was to conduct a national literature review, focusing on two primary research questions:

  1. What can the Department learn about SLIFE nationally and in MA that would help the department to accurately identify and provide effective, differentiated services for SLIFE?; and
  2. What are effective policies, practices (definitions, processes, program models, curricula, and tools), and programmatic approaches for supporting the academic success and well-being of SLIFE in Massachusetts and the nation?

Here is the completed literature review and executive summary:

This project will continue through 2025 and includes the following additional components:

  • Year 2 (2022-23): a quantitative analysis of DESE's existing data regarding SLIFE

  • Years 3-4 (2023-25): qualitative research about current SLIFE and educators in Massachusetts through focus groups, surveys, interviews, student shadowing, and classroom observations

Last Updated: November 17, 2022

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