Center for Equity for English Learners, Loyola Marymount University and Wexford Institute
The Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) Model Research and Evaluation Final Report is comprised of three sets of studies that took place between 2015 and 2019 to examine the effectiveness of the SEAL Model in 67 schools within 12 districts across the state of California.
Over a decade ago, the Sobrato Family Foundation responded to the enduring opportunity gaps and low academic outcomes for the state’s 1.2 million English Learners by investing in the design of the SEAL Model. The SEAL PreK–Grade 3 Model was created as a whole-school initiative to develop students’ language, literacy, and academic skills. The pilot study revealed promising findings, and the large-scale implementation of SEAL was launched in 2013. This report addresses a set of research questions and corresponding studies focused on: 1) the perceptions of school and district-level leaders regarding district and school site implementation of the SEAL Model, 2) teachers’ development and practices, and 3) student outcomes. The report is organized in five sections, within which are twelve research briefs that address the three areas of study. Technical appendices are included in each major section. A developmental evaluation process with mixed methods research design was used to answer the research questions. Key findings indicate that the implementation of the SEAL Model has taken root in many schools and districts where there is evidence of systemic efforts or instructional improvement for the English Learners they serve. In regards to teachers’ development and practices, there were statistically significant increases in the use of research-based practices for English Learners. Teachers indicated a greater sense of efficacy in addressing the needs of this population and believe the model has had a positive impact on their knowledge and skills to support the language and literacy development of PreK- Grade 3 English Learners. Student outcome data reveal that despite SEAL schools averaging higher rates of poverty compared to the statewide rate, SEAL English Learners in grades 2–4 performed comparably or better than California English Learners in developing their English proficiency; additional findings show that an overwhelming majority of SEAL students are rapidly progressing towards proficiency thus preventing them from becoming long-term English Learners. English Learners in bilingual programs advanced in their development of Spanish, while other English Learners suffered from language loss in Spanish. The final section of the report provides considerations and implications for further SEAL replication, sustainability, additional research and policy.
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