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Burns Latino Studies Academy has been labeled an “at risk” institution frequently reported on by the media. Inadequate funding for English Language Learners (ELL) is just one of the shortcomings cited, and has resulted in the school receiving extra support in the wake of a 2007 lawsuit filed by the Center for Children’s Advocacy. Since then, Burns has secured both additional ELL funding and a new ELL coach. However, a number of challenges remain. The current study asks the question: Why does Burns Latino Studies Academy’s bilingual program fall short of fully serving the needs of its ELL students? Employing a qualitative research approach, it provides a more comprehensive narrative of the many institutional barriers present at Burns. In-depth interviews with Principal Brase, three early childhood education teachers, and the recently hired ELL coach, along with classroom observations, point to two key factors, the state of Burns’ bilingual classrooms and the quality of interactions with students identified as English Language Learners. Preliminary findings suggest both the need to provide greater individual attention to “new arrival” students and the need to enhance ELL instructional technology in order to improve bilingual literacy. Based on these findings, the current study recommends that Burns Academy pair with family care centers in the community. It has also identified free online resources to assist in communication with ELL students and a potential private donor of new computers for the targeted student group at Burns Academy. Lastly, a donation from the company, Techroot, has been secured to replace the school’s recently destroyed ELL instructional equipment, and the research team is currently working with Trinity College’s La Voz Latina student group to act as an outreach and mentoring resource for ELL students at Burns Academy.


Community partner: Burns Latino Studies Academy