Research Evidence for SIOP

With the large and growing numbers of English learners (ELs) in the U.S., my colleagues Deborah Short, MaryEllen Vogt and I set out to develop and test an approach for making grade-level instruction understandable for ELs while at the same time, developing their English proficiency. That was 20 years ago…..

Since that time, there have been lots of books and other resources produced on the topic of effective instruction for English learners. Much of it is good and has been helpful to teachers who work diligently to educate the English learners in their classrooms.

In this post, I’d like to share what is unique about SIOP: It has a solid and growing research base that demonstrates that it actually helps kids achieve academically and improve their English proficiency.

IMG_1302SIOP is an approach for lesson planning and  delivery that is used widely across the U.S. and in numerous countries. SIOP’s features are research-based, as are most other programs and practices out there for teaching English learners.

However, the difference is that there are also empirical studies conducted on the SIOP Model itself demonstrating its effectiveness.

Selected research conducted thus far is described below followed by a more comprehensive list of SIOP research studies and resources.

  • The observation protocol has a 5-point scale for each of SIOP’s features  which measures its level of implementation. A study was conducted to establish the validity and reliability of the SIOP protocol and found the SIOP instrument to be a highly reliable and valid measure of sheltered instruction (Guarino, et al., 2001);
  • A professional development process was developed including training materials and videotapes, and it has been shown to be effective in improving teachers’ practice as they work with English learners (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2000; Short, Fidelman, & Louguit, 2012);
  • When the features of the SIOP Model are implemented to a high degree, the achievement of English learners improves (Echevarria, Short, & Powers, 2006; Echevarria, Richards, Chinn & Ratleff, 2011);
  • The features of the SIOP Model provide the language supports that English learners need to improve literacy skills. When teachers applied the features effectively, student reading scores in English improved (McIntyre, Kyle, et al., 2010);
  • Students in middle and high school classes (mathematics, science, social studies, language arts, ESL, health, and computer) with SIOP-trained teachers outperformed comparison students (those without trained teachers) on the IDEA Language Proficiency Tests (IPT) to levels of statistical significance in oral language, writing, and overall mean scores, indicating that the SIOP Model had a positive impact on the development of English language proficiency (Short, Fidelman, & Louguit, 2012);
  • There are multiple schools and districts that report increased student performance when teachers implement the SIOP Model (Echevarria, 2012; Echevarria, Short & Vogt, 2017);
  • English-speaking students as well as English learners in SIOP classes outperformed similar students in control classes (Short & Himmel, 2013).


Batt, E. (2010). Cognitive coaching: A critical phase in professional development to implement sheltered instruction. Teaching and Teacher Education 26, 997-1005.

Bertram, R. L. (2011). Sheltered instruction: A case study of three high school English teachers’ experiences with the SIOP Model (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3486471)

Calderon, C. T., & Zamora, E. (2014). Factors affecting the implementation of sheltered instruction observation protocols for English language learners. National Forum of Educational Administration & Supervision Journal, 31 (3), 20-32.

Chen, C., Kyle, D., & McIntyre, E. (2008). Helping teachers work effectively with English language learners and their families. The School Community Journal, Vol. 18, No. 1.

Echevarría, J. (2012). Effective practices for increasing the achievement of English learners. Washington, DC: Center for Research on the Educational Achievement and Teaching of English Language Learners. Retrieved from http://www.cal.org/create/resources/pubs/

Echevarria, J., Richards-Tutor, C., Canges, R., & Francis, D. (2011). Using the SIOP Model to promote the acquisition of language and science concepts with English learners. Bilingual Research Journal, 34 (3), 334-351.

Echevarria, J., Richards-Tutor, C., Chinn, V., & Ratleff, P. (2011). Did they get it? The role of fidelity in teaching English learners. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 54 (6), 425-434.

Echevarría, J., & Short, D. (2004). Using multiple perspectives in observations of diverse classrooms: The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP). In H. Waxman, R. Tharp, & S., Hilberg (Eds.), Observational research in U.S. classrooms: New approaches for understanding cultural and linguistic diversity. Boston: Cambridge University Press.

Echevarria , J., & Short, D. (2010). Programs and practices for effective sheltered content instruction. In California Department of Education (Ed.). Improving education for English learners: Research-based approaches. (pp. 250-321). Sacramento, CA: CDE Press.

Echevarría, J., & Short, D. (2011). The SIOP® Model: A professional development framework for comprehensive schoolwide intervention. Washington, DC: Center for Research on the Educational Achievement and Teaching of English Language Learners. Retrieved from http://www.cal.org/create/resources/pubs/professional-development-framework.html

Echevarria, J., Short, D., & Powers, K. (2006). School reform and standards-based education: An instructional model for English language learners. Journal of Educational Research, 99(4), 195-210.

Echevarria, J., & Vogt, ME. (2010). Using the SIOP Model to improve literacy for English learners. New England Reading Association Journal, 46 (1), 8-15.

Friend, J., Most, R., & McCrary, K. (2009). The impact of a professional development program to improve urban middle-level English language learner achievement. Middle Grades Research Journal, 4(1), 53–75.

Guarino, A.J., Echevarria, J., Short, D., Schick, J.E., Forbes, S., & Rueda, R. (2001). The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol. Journal of Research in Education, 11(1), 138–140.

Himmel, J., Echevarria, J. & Short, D. (under review). Increasing teacher knowledge of sheltered instruction. Middle School Journal.

Himmel, J., Short, D.J., Richards, C., & Echevarria, J. (2009). Using the SIOP Model to improve middle school science instruction. Washington, DC: Center for Research on the Educational Achievement and Teaching of English Language Learners. Retrieved from http://www.cal.org/create/resources/pubs/siopscience.htm

Honigsfeld, A., & Cohan, A. (2008). The power of two: Lesson study and SIOP help teachers instruct ELLs. Journal of Staff Development, 29(1), 24-28.

Kang, AeJin. (2005). How to promote comprehension and participation in CBI courses: The SIOP model. English Teaching, 60(4), 159-196.

Kareva, V. & Echevarria, J. (2013). Using the SIOP Model for effective content teaching with second and foreign language learners. Journal of Education and Training Studies, (2), 239-248.

McIntyre, E., Kyle, D., Chen, C., Muñoz, M. & Beldon, S. (2010). Teacher learning and ELL reading achievement in sheltered instruction classrooms: Linking professional development to student development, Literacy Research and Instruction49(4), 334-351.

Nora, J. & Echevarria, J. (2016). No more low expectations for ELLs (N. Duke & E..Keene, Eds.)  Not This But That series. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

O’Neal, D., Ringler, M. C., & Lys, D. B. (2009). Skeptics to partners: University teams with district to improve ELL instruction. Journal of Staff Development, 30(4), 52–55.

Polat, N. & Cepik, S. (2015). An exploratory factor analysis of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol as an evaluation tool to measure teaching effectiveness. TESOL QUARTERLY Vol. 0, No. 0, DOI: 10.1002/tesq.248

Portillo, C. (2015). Teachers’ perceptions on the use of Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol as a districtwide professional development reform. (Doctoral Dissertation) Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3723058)

Short, D. (2000). What principals should know about sheltered instruction for English language learners. NASSP Bulletin, 84 (619), 17-27. doi:10.1177/019263650008461902

Short, D. (2013). Training and sustaining effective teachers of sheltered instruction. Theory Into Practice, 52(2), 118-127.

Short, D., Cloud, N., Morris, P., & Motta, J. (2012). Cross-district collaboration: Curriculum and professional development. TESOL Journal3(3), 402-424.

Short, D., & Echevarria, J. (1999). The sheltered observation protocol: A tool for researcher-teacher collaboration and professional development. (Educational Practice Report No. 3). Santa Cruz, CA and Washington, DC: Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence.

Short, D., & Echevarria, J. (2004). Teacher skills to support English language learners. Educational Leadership, 62(4), 9–13.

Short, D., Echevarria, J., & Richards-Tutor, C. (2011). Research on academic literacy development in sheltered instruction classrooms. Language Teaching Research, 15(3), 363-380.

Short, D., Fidelman, C., & Louguit, M. (2012). Developing academic language in English language learners through sheltered instruction. TESOL Quarterly, 46(2), 333-360.

Short, D., & Himmel, J. (2013). Moving research on sheltered instruction into curriculum and professional development practice. Paper presented at American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, April 2013.

Song, K. (2016, February). Systematic professional development training and its impact on teachers’ attitudes toward ELLs: SIOP and guided coaching. TESOL Journal. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/tesj.240/full doi: 10.1002/tesj.240 .

Song, K. (2016,). Applying an SIOP-Based instructional framework for professional development in Korea. TESL-EJ, 20 (1).

Vidot, J. L. (2011). The efficacy of sheltered instruction observation protocol (SIOP) in mathematics instruction on English language learners. (Doctoral dissertation) Available from http://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/dissertations/943/

Vogt, ME. (2012). English learners: Developing their literate lives. In R. M. Bean & A. S. Dagen (Eds.), Best practice of literacy leaders: Keys to school improvement (pp. 248-260). New York: The Guilford Press.

Watkins, N. M., & Lindahl, K. M. (2010). Targeting content area literacy instruction to meet the needs of adolescent English language learners. Middle School Journal, 41(3), 23–32.

Welsh, L. & Newman, K. (2010). Becoming a content-ESL teacher: A dialogic journey of a science teacher and teacher educator. Theory Into Practice, 49:137–144.

Whittier, L. E., & Robinson, M. (2007). Teaching evolution to non-English proficient students by using Lego Robotics. American Secondary Education, 35(3), 19–28.

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