Welcome to CELA!   Center on English Learning & Achievement

What are the essential features that lead to exemplary instruction in English?
(Judith Langer)

From 1996-2000, Dr. Judith Langer and her research team worked in New York, Florida, California, and Texas, studying 25 schools, 44 teachers, and 960 students, of whom 192 were studied in depth.  Researchers studied each site over a two-year period in order to gain a full understanding of the school, its professional context, and classroom instruction. They observed 2 teachers (or teacher teams) at each school and 2 full classes, including 6 representative students from each class. Sites included both excellent and more typical middle and high schools in each state. Findings are available in a variety of books, booklets, and articles, including:


  • Getting to Excellent: How to Create Better Schools (2004). Judith A. Langer. Teachers College Press  (800-575-6566)
  • Article Abstract:  Turning Obstacles into Opportunity, (Harvard Education Letter, 17 (2), 6-7) (March/April 2001), Judith A. Langer
  • Article Abstract: Succeeding Against the Odds in English (English Journal, 91(1) 37-42, Sept 2001), Judith A. Langer

Features of Effective Instruction

  • Booklet: Guidelines for Teaching Middle and High School Students to Read and Write Well: Six Features of Effective Instruction (Online Booklet)
  • Book:  Effective Literacy Instruction: Building Successful Reading and Writing Programs (2002). Judith A. Langer. National Council of Teachers of English
  • Research Report:  Beating the Odds: Teaching Middle and High School Students to Read and Write Well, Langer (2000)
  • Article Abstract: Beating the odds: Teaching middle and high school students to read and write well. American Education Research Journal, 38(4) 837-880, Winter 2001, Judith A. Langer.
  • Brief: Uncommonly Successful English/Language Arts Programs Share Common Instructional Features

    Case Studies
  • How English is Taught and Learned in Four Exemplary Middle and High School Classrooms (Online Report)
  • Vocational School English Teacher Engages Students in High Levels of Reading and Writing: The Case of Janas Masztal (Online Report)

Professional Contexts That Make a Difference

  • Research Report:  Excellence in English in Middle and High School: How Teachers' Professional Lives Support Student Achievement, Langer (2000)
  • Article Abstract: Excellence in English in Middle and High School: How Teachers' Professional Lives Support Student Achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 37(2) 397-439, Summer 2000, Judith A. Langer
  • Brief: Students Exceed Expectations When Schools Nurture Teachers' Professional Lives
  • Article: The Relation Between Professional Climate and Student Learning Depends on the Way a School Treats Teachers. Middle School Journal, 35(5), May 2004), Janet I. Angelis

Case Studies

  • Achieving High Quality Reading and Writing in an Urban Middle School: The Case of Gail Slatko (Online Report)
  • Beating the Odds Over Time: One District's Perspective (Online Report)
  • Collegial Networks: A Team of Sixth-Grade Teachers in a Two-Way Bilingual Program (Online Report)
  • Collegial Support and Networks Invigorate Teaching: The Case of Marsha S. Slater (Online Report)
  • Interactions between Central Office Language Arts Administrators and Exemplary English Teachers, and the Impact on Student Performance (Online Report)
  • A Lifelong Middle School Teacher Never Stops Learning: The Case of Cathy Starr (Online Report)
  • Teaming to Teach English to International High School Students: A Case Study (Online Report)

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The Center on English Learning and Achievement