Teacher preparation for emergent bilingual students: Implications of evidence for policy


  • Francesca Lopez University of Arizona
  • Lucrecia Santibanez Claremont Graduate Univeristy




English language learners, teacher preparation, teacher effectiveness


Failure to adequately prepare teachers of emergent bilingual (EB) students could have devastating consequences for student achievement, EB reclassification, and eventually, high school and college completion. To enhance the policy discourse, we explore how teacher certification requirements relate to both EB student achievement and teacher self-efficacy in three states with similar EB student populations but disparate policies on ways to meet EBs' needs: Arizona, California, and Texas. To do this we ask: (1) How well do states prepare their teachers to meet the needs of EBs? (2) What knowledge specific to meeting EBs’ needs do states require their teachers to demonstrate? (3) How are these requirements related to teacher perceptions of their preparedness to effectively teach EBs? We find that there are marked differences across the three states in terms of how well they prepare EBs, and these patterns can be discerned from their teacher preparation requirements. Although teachers’ self-efficacy does not appear to be related to teacher training in the first three years of teaching, there is an advantage to more rigorous training over time. Implications for policy are discussed.


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Author Biographies

Francesca Lopez, University of Arizona

Dr. López (Ph.D. Educational Psychology, University of Arizona) is an Associate Professor in the Educational Policy Studies and Practice department in the College of Education at the University of Arizona. She began her career in education as a bilingual (Spanish/English) elementary teacher, and later as an at-risk high school counselor, in El Paso, Texas. Her research is focused on the ways educational settings promote achievement for Latino youth and has been funded by the American Educational Research Association Grants Program, the Division 15 American Psychological Association Early Career Award, and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship. Dr. López is a National Education Policy Center Fellow, and served as a Visiting Fellow for the Program for Transborder Communities at Arizona State University. She serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment and Contemporary Educational Psychology, and is currently senior associate editor for the American Journal of Education and co-editor of the American Educational Research Journal.

Lucrecia Santibanez, Claremont Graduate Univeristy

Dr. Santibañez (Ph.D. Education, M.A. Economics, Stanford University) is an Associate Professor at Claremont Graduate University's School of Educational Studies. During the Fall of 2017 she was a Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Education and Information Science at UCLA. Previously she was Education the RAND Corporation and a Professor of Public Policy at CIDE in Mexico City. Her research focuses on how to improve learning for disadvantaged populations through policies that improve teaching and school-level use of resources. She has conducted research in many countries including Mexico, Colombia, Laos, Mozambique and the United States. Her academic research has been published by Economics of Education Review, Teachers College Record, Review of Educational Research, Education Policy Analysis Archives, International Journal of Behavioral Development, International Journal of Educational Development and Well-Being and Social Policy. As Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator she has received research grants from the Spencer Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund, The World Bank, the Interamerican Development Bank, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.




How to Cite

Lopez, F., & Santibanez, L. (2018). Teacher preparation for emergent bilingual students: Implications of evidence for policy. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 26, 36. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.26.2866



Navigating the Contested Terrain of Teacher Education Policy and Practice