Experts & Staff
Senior Policy Analyst
Julie Sugarman is Senior Policy Analyst for PreK-12 Education at the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, where she focuses on issues related to immigrant and English Learner (EL) students. Among her areas of focus: policies, funding mechanisms, and district- and school-level practices that support high-quality instructional services for these youth, as well as the particular needs of immigrant and refugee students who first enter U.S. schools at the middle and high school levels.
Dr. Sugarman came to MPI from the Center for Applied Linguistics, where she specialized in the evaluation of educational programs for language learners and in dual language/two-way immersion programs. At CAL, she directed comprehensive program evaluations of instruction for ELs in K-12, and contributed to numerous research and evaluation projects, including studies of biliteracy development in two-way immersion programs and the evaluation of the STARTALK program which funds teacher training programs and language instruction for students in grades K-16 in critical languages. She also provided evaluation expertise to the Cultural Orientation Resource Center at CAL, where she developed a toolkit to help practitioners assess the effectiveness of cultural and community orientation programs for refugees settled in the United States and collected data on overseas and domestic cultural orientation practices, successes, and challenges through practitioner surveys and learner assessments.
Dr. Sugarman earned a B.A. in anthropology and French from Bryn Mawr College, an M.A. in anthropology from the University of Virginia, and a Ph.D. in second language education and culture from the University of Maryland, College Park.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of education, and it is expected that English Learners (ELs) will suffer disproportionate impacts. In this webcast, panelists discuss how weaknesses in existing EL teacher education and professional development policies have played into schools’ uneven response to the pandemic. They also offer lessons for future reform.
Authors of a MPI report were joined by practioners from California and Tennessee in a discussion on key challenges to meeting English Learners’ needs during the pandemic and the policies and practices school systems will need to put in place to support them and their families through the public-health and education crisis, as well as when schooling returns to normal.
The 2020–21 academic year is underway, but many U.S. schools, students, and families are still reeling from the rocky transition to remote learning that occurred months earlier, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. For English Learners and students in immigrant families, many of the challenges are magnified. This policy brief examines how schools’ pandemic response is affecting these students and offers recommendations to help schools and districts support them in this period of uncertainty.
This webchat marks the release of a report examining the role native language assessments play in addressing equity concerns for English Learner (EL) students. The conversation offers participants an introduction to the key policy and practical considerations in the implementation of these assessments, particularly in a time of pandemic-induced disruptions for schools and looming budget cuts.
With high stakes attached to standardized tests in U.S. education, it is critical that these assessments accurately capture what students know and can do in a subject. For English Learners, this may be a challenge if they cannot fully demonstrate in English what they have learned. Native language assessments are one promising tool for overcoming this hurdle, though questions about when and with whom they are most effective remain.
This podcast features a discussion between MPI's Margie McHugh and Julie Sugarman about how to understand the varying composition of states' English Learner (EL) subgroup under ESSA, and why understanding these technical differences matters when making decisions about how ELs and schools are faring. They also talk about different groups of ELs: newcomers, students with interrupted formal education, and long-term ELs, and data collection around these different cohorts.
States publish a wealth of data about their English Learner students’ academic achievement and other outcomes such as graduation rates. But the answer to the question “Who is an EL?” is not always the same. This brief explains how the EL subgroup varies across states and types of data, and why it is important to understand these differences when making decisions about how ELs and schools are faring.
Experts share how states have approached Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation, areas where the law and state efforts to support English Learners can be improved, and findings from the compendium, The Patchy Landscape of State English Learner Policies under ESSA.