Federally Funded Research on EL Education

Several federal government programs fund research related to the education of English learners (ELs). Because this research may still be in process, findings may not yet be available in the form of reports and articles. Brief descriptions of programs, with links to more information and to information on funded research projects, are provided below. 

Department of Education (ED)

Investing in Innovation(i3)


Purpose: Provide competitive grants to applicants with a record of improving student achievement and attainment in order to expand the implementation of, and investment in, innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement or student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing college enrollment and completion rates.

These grants will (1) allow eligible entities to expand and develop innovative practices that can serve as models of best practices, (2) allow eligible entities to work in partnership with the private sector and the philanthropic community, and (3) identify and document best practices that can be shared and taken to scale based on demonstrated success.

Current Awards: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/innovation/awards.html.

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES)


Purpose: The Institute of Education Sciences has an overarching priority to support research that contributes to school readiness and improved academic achievement for all students and particularly for those whose education prospects are hindered by inadequate education services and conditions associated with poverty, race/ethnicity, limited English proficiency, disability, and family circumstance.

Types of awards: IES supports a number of different types of programs, which can be explored here: 

http://ies.ed.gov/funding/index.asp#currentThese include Education Research Programs, one of which focuses on English learners. Information about the English learner research program can be found here: http://ies.ed.gov/funding/ncer_rfas/ell.asp.

Current Awards: http://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/.

Health and Human Services (HHS)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH)


Purpose: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) fund a wide range of research and other programs that could relate to English learners. For example, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) funds research on children, including some research studies on education of English learners.

Current awards: http://report.nih.gov/award/index.cfm

The National Science Foundation (NSF)

Education and Human Resources (EHR)


Purpose: The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 USC 1861-75). The Act states the purpose of the NSF is “to promote the progress of science; [and] to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare by supporting research and education in all fields of science and engineering.” 


Types of awards: NSF funds research related to ELs under a number of different program areas. The program area most relevant to EL education research is Education and Human Resources (EHR), which includes four organizations: Graduate Education (DGE), Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL), Undergraduate Education (DUE), and Human Resource Development (HRD). Specific funding opportunities can be found on the organization subpages, linked from the EHR main page.


Current awardshttp://www.nsf.gov/awards/award_visualization.jsp?org=EHR