Teaching Common Core Math to English Language Learners: Strategies High School Math Teachers Can Use to Overcome These Challenges

The achievement gap that exists among English Language Learners (ELLs) and non-ELLs in America’s secondary mathematics classrooms is steadily increasing. Moreover, teachers have higher numbers of ELLs in their classes every year, without the support or training to prepare for the instructional challenges this demographic shift brings. Overall trends in research indicate the need for awareness of this achievement gap, strategies to close the gap, and implementation of best practices in math classrooms. This mixed methods case study explores strategies Math teachers can deploy to close the achievement gap among both ELLs and non-ELLs in math; as well as, the implementation of best practices in their classrooms to help increase ELLs’ math achievement. Classroom observations, teacher interviews, student surveys, and grade report data were collected from the co-taught Sheltered English (SE) Math 1 focus class. The findings from this study suggest that ELLs benefit in math achievement when enrolled in a co-teaching instructional setting with one Math and one English Language Development (ELD) teacher. The researcher recommends purposeful scheduling of co-taught math classes based on identifying ELLs whom would benefit the most from this supportive learning environment. Data collected and findings reported in this study could drive administrative decision making with great potential of a profound impact on the achievement of ELLs in math.