Lisa Tabaku

Director, Global Language and Culture

Lisa Tabaku returned to CAL in 2018 to serve as Director of Global Language and Culture. Lisa was the director and assistant director of PK–12 ELL Professional Development at CAL from 2008 until 2013.

In the interim, Lisa served as principal researcher and technical assistance consultant at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) where she was responsible for using research findings to inform technical assistance provided to states and districts to improve educational outcomes for English learners (ELs). While at AIR, Lisa provided state technical assistance on behalf of ELs for the Midwest Comprehensive Center (MWCC).  Her work included, for example, supporting Minnesota in the development of a process for identifying students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE), revising the state home language survey, and assisting MDE with the development of a customizable, online handbook for linguistically and culturally diverse (LCD) families enrolled in public schools in Minnesota. As part of her work at MWCC, Lisa also developed a report for MWCC on state assessments in languages other than English. At AIR, she wrote curricula for New York state and New York City that ensure access for ELs of grade-level text. Lisa also performed evaluations of policies and practices for ELs in districts in Washington, Colorado and Delaware.

Lisa has 30 years of experience in helping to educate students of diverse language and cultural backgrounds. While at CAL she developed educational materials and provided professional development on effective and culturally responsive instruction for English learners, especially on the topic of teaching reading to students learning to read in a second language and on the development of academic language. Lisa’s knowledge and skills are grounded in many years of serving in an urban, high poverty school district. Over the course of her career she has directly taught ELs in grades PreK 3 through 12. She served in a variety of roles addressing EL education in the District of Columbia Public Schools. These roles included director of Civil Rights and Multicultural Affairs, Executive Director of the Office of Bilingual Education, Assistant Principal of a Spanish-English, dual-language elementary school, professional developer, grant writer, curriculum writer, federal grants coordinator, and bilingual and ESL teacher.

Lisa is a co-author of a Department of Education, Office of English Language Acquisition, report, Dual Language Education Programs: Current State Policies and Practices (2015) and a CAL Practitioner Brief, Implementing the Common Core for English learners: Responding to Common Questions from Educators (2013).

Tabaku holds an MAT degree in bilingual education and a BS degree in languages from Georgetown University.She has served on the State Title III Advisory Board, Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), District of Columbia, since 2014 and as an advisory board member of the Mid Atlantic Equity Consortium (currently to the Equity Assistance Center, Region I) since 2012.