Effective Systems

Implementing Structured English Immersion (SEI) in Arizona: Benefits, Costs, Challenges, and Opportunities


This study conducted telephone interviews with 26 randomly selected English Language Coordinators from 26 Arizona school districts with enrollment patterns that were representative of the state as whole. Three primary questions were posed to the respondents:

  • How is the 4-hour ELD block being implemented?
  • What are the benefits of the 4-hour ELD block for students and for schools?
  • What are the concerns about implementing the 4-hour ELD block?

The study found that all districts included in the study were implementing the 4 hour ELD block mandated for ELL students, but that there was considerable variation in some aspects of implementation. Although some districts recognized that their ELL students required additional support outside the 4-hour block, such as after school or summer programs (particularly for secondary students who were unable to take the courses they needed for graduation) and provided these services, two-thirds either chose not to or could not provide these services. With respect to benefits, the vast majority of ELCs focused on ELL students’ English language development and additional teacher training that was provided. ELCs appreciated that the English instruction was less fragmented than in the past. Although most respondents did not feel teacher training was of better quality than they had received in the past, they were pleased that there was more of it. Regarding the costs/concerns of the program, ELCs mentioned that the implementation of the 4-hour ELD block has: (1) neglected core areas of academic content that are critical for ELL students’ academic success and graduation, (2) contributed to ELL students’ isolation, (3) limited ELL students opportunities for on-time high school graduation, potentially increasing drop out--and for college readiness, and (4) assumed that English language learning can be accomplished for all ELL students within an unrealistic timeframe and under a set of unrealistic conditions.