The Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Science is beginning a new consensus study called “Fostering School Success for English Learners: Toward New Directions in Policy, Practice, and Research.” This study will focus on “the foundational elements of language development and cultural influences from the home to the community for children from birth to age 8; and the systems and policies affecting English Language Learner (ELL) and Dual Language Learner (DLL) children and youth in grades K-12.” With a growing number of ELLs enrolled in school and the most diverse K-12 student population ever, this is a timely study.

Additional research on DLLs and ELLs is necessary. There are gaps in knowledge on how to best foster growth and development for these students to ensure academic and life success. Sponsored by the Department of Education, the Foundation for Child Development, the Health Resources and Services Administration, Heising-Simons Foundation, and The McKnight Foundation, the study will go beyond just school-based factors and include students from various disciplines, including public health, maternal and child health, and cultural anthropology. By including these important outside factors that influence education, the IOM will present a more complete picture of the DLL and ELL population, leading to more complete and effective solutions to the challenges this population faces.

The first meeting is an open meeting scheduled for March 25-26, 2015. We look forward to the completion of work on this important consensus study, which will serve to inform policies on early childhood, K-12 education, health, and other policies that impact the DLL and ELL population.