From the late 1970s through the mid-1990s, the large numbers of immigrant students in the U.S. presented an increasing challenge to teachers in schools. These students were being placed in content area classes before they were proficient in academic English and the call for educational standards further ramped up the curriculum rigor. Most teachers were not prepared to make instruction understandable for these learners who were learning the new language and the content of multiple subject areas at the same time.
Research studies and teacher practice brought about a variety of teaching techniques for use with English learners. However, implementation of these recommended practices was uneven and had not been shown empirically to improve student achievement. As a way of providing a tested model of instruction for English learners, the SIOP Model was developed through a seven-year research study (1996–2003) funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Researchers from California State University Long Beach (Echevarria & Vogt) and the Center for Applied Linguistics (Short) collaborated with middle school teachers in three metropolitan districts in the U.S. (east and west coasts) to build and test a model of sheltered instruction. An observation instrument for researchers to measure teachers’ implementation of sheltered instruction was developed first, resulting in the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP). During the first four years of the study, the teachers field-tested variations of the model in their classrooms and the researchers monitored the effects. By 2000, SIOP had grown into a lesson planning and delivery approach known as the SIOP Model (Echevarria, Vogt & Short, 2000) and subsequent research studies validated its effectiveness (see tab, Research Evidence for the SIOP Model). More than 15 years later, the SIOP Model continues to be used widely in U.S. schools and increasingly in other countries. With the present call for increased rigor in American schools, there is even greater demand for teachers to be prepared to meet the needs of a growing diverse student population. The SIOP Model provides specific guidance to teachers for implementing instructional features shown to be effective with second language learners.
In other countries, the SIOP Model is used in settings where 1) the language of instruction differs from students’ home language, and 2) students are learning a new language through content teaching. In each of these settings, students benefit when teachers use a variety of proven instructional features for making the content understandable and also providing ample opportunity for practicing the target language.
The model has not changed since its original development (cf. Echevarria, Vogt & Short, 2017) although the professional development for teachers in the U.S. has been broadened. SIOP trainings include (see Pearson SIOP website):
- Teachers – training for content and language teachers explains the theory and research undergirding the eight components, demonstrates and provides practice in a wide range of student-centered instructional techniques that teachers can use in their classrooms, and guides them in SIOP lesson planning.
- Administrators – training includes information about the SIOP Model, how to support teachers using the model, and how the SIOP can have a positive impact on teaching all students, especially second language learners and those with weak academic literacy skills.
- Instructional Coaches – training helps to develop effective SIOP coaches who assist teachers in improving classroom instruction.
- Inter-rater Reliability – administrators and coaches learn how to use the observation protocol to establish common benchmarks of effective classroom lessons and rate the quality of instruction and SIOP implementation.
- Advanced SIOP Training for Teachers – training provides component enrichment through which educators deepen their understanding and implementation of the eight SIOP components.
Based on: Echevarria, J., Vogt, ME. & Short, D. (2017). Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: The SIOP Model 5e. New York: Pearson.