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Report on Teaching Shortages Shows Significant Progress for 98% of English Language Learners After 30-week Virtual Pilot

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The pilot focused on Off2Class training future language teachers in three conflict zones and the delivery of a newcomer program with Tulsa Public Schools (OK).

Students that already had some English have skyrocketed. Students that came in with no English have incrementally grown their skills and their confidence…we know the pilot was successful.”
— Gracye McCoy, Tulsa Public Schools
USA, April 5, 2023/ -- Off2Class, provider of the leading software toolkit for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers and US K12 districts, has released the results of a virtual learning pilot training future language teachers.

Delivered by volunteer teachers and assistants from the Ismaili Community, the efficacy pilot studied 289 learners using the Off2Class platform across three conflict zones.

After 30 weeks, all learners showed significant English proficiency improvement. One conflict zone saw 98% of learners increase their CEFR level (the international standard of language proficiency) by at least one level. Many improved by multiple levels.

The report, "English for All: Lessons from Syria to Oklahoma on addressing the global shortage of teachers," shows two cost-effective uses of virtual learning in training teachers as well as English Language Learners (ELLs).

The first was the English Learning Connection (ELC), a credit-bearing 30-week virtual pilot delivered in partnership with the Ismaili Community across three conflict zones (Syria and two politically sensitive countries).

The Ismaili Community is a Muslim community of 12-15 million people, led by His Highness, the Aga Khan, working for the “betterment of self and society” and with a keen focus on education.

One area of that focus is providing access to English training which is in short supply, particularly in Central Asia and the Middle East. There is a global need to train ESL teachers, and the Ismaili Community works to address that.

The goal was to rectify that imbalance by “training the trainer" in these regions. But COVID-19 presented a challenge, preventing the delivery of in-person instruction. The volunteer teachers lacked experience teaching online.

The Ismaili Community turned to Off2Class and its experience building teaching capacity for ELL programs.

The pilot paired the content, step-by-step curriculum and digital tools of Off2Class with an implementation approach designed and delivered by the volunteers of the Ismaili Community. Future teachers would be first taught as students on the platform and then take on the role of teachers.

The program tested learners at the beginning and end of the pilot. Upon completing the program, learners showed remarkable progress. Alongside improving their CEFR levels, 78% improved their grammar skills. And, importantly, students progressed to becoming teacher assistants and teachers.

The second pilot took place in Tulsa Public Schools (TPS), Oklahoma and was a supplemental program, leveraging virtual tutors to teach newcomer students

In US K12 schools, ELLs make up 1 in 10 students and are the fastest-growing student population. With shortages of ESL teachers reported across 32 states, finding new ways to support learners is critical.

In 2022, Tulsa Public Schools faced an influx of newcomer students from Afghanistan. Staffing shortages hampered the school's ability to create a program to support these students. TPS turned to Off2Class. The pilot leveraged high-quality online tutors from the Off2Class community with the platform’s ‘toolkit.' Students received targeted support and instruction. At the end of the four-week trial, the district reported improved conversational English. Students and parents reported high satisfaction levels.

“Students that already had some English have skyrocketed,” said Gracye McCoy, TPS ELD Pathways Manager. “ Students that came in with no English have incrementally grown their skills and their confidence…we know the pilot was successful.”

Delivering high-quality education to learners means ensuring every learner has access to high-quality language learning. Research shows that teachers offer the best bet for addressing the inequities that beset English Learners. But teachers face huge demands on their time. Schools around the world struggle to find high-quality language teachers.

The “English for All” report offers two pathways for training language learners and the next generation of high-quality teachers.

"We know schools are looking to tools like high-dosage tutoring to address learning loss and support students," said Kris Jagasia, co-founder and CEO of Off2Class. "We are proud of what this report shows the impact of our tools as well as the importance of pairing quality tutors with a rigorous and structured curriculum."

Nathan Martin, Head of Marketing
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