Vision: Equip English Learners (ELs) with the language skills needed for success in the mainstream classroom. We value each student's home language and culture. We believe that collaboration with other teachers, parents, and our community empowers English Learners to reach academic success.
- Academic Language
- Elementary Program
- Program Exit
- Ongoing Assessments
- Language Instructional Educational Program
Academic Language is the language typically found in textbooks, used daily in classrooms, and presented on tests. It is the language that students must master in order to succeed in any content area, such as science, social studies, language arts, or math. Mastering Academic Language is a challenge for all students. Any student may struggle with tasks that require proficiency with Academic Language.. Research clearly shows that it is especially challenging for students with limited exposure to that language outside of school. More specifically, Academic Language proficiency is believed to be one of the most important factors in the academic success of English Learners (ELs).
Academic Language generally refers to language that is necessary for learners to perform successfully in academic contexts. In the late 1970s, Jim Cummins helped to focus educational research on a distinction between English spoken in classrooms and English spoken on the playground - Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) and Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS). As students learn English, it is critical that language instruction is centered on the Academic Language of content areas, where students make use of specialized vocabulary, grammar, language functions and structures, and text types.
In District 112, Academic Language, the language that is used by teachers and students for the purpose of acquiring new information, is taught directly. This kind of language differs in many ways from social language. It is more difficult and takes longer to learn. It is less interactive and has fewer context clues to assist meaning. Academic language has very specific purposes such as describing abstract ideas and concepts. Students who are proficient in Academic Language will be much better equipped to acquire new knowledge through reading and listening, and to express this knowledge and their ideas through oral discussions, writing and test taking.
Home Language Survey
All families who enroll students in Eastern Carver County Schools fill out a home language survey. This form, designed by the federal government, asks families which languages their learner speaks and understands. When a learner has experience with languages other than English, the district is required to assess the student’s English language proficiency. A consistent process that screens all learners is one way we ensure that determination for English learner services is fair and unbiased. The information on the form is only used to determine appropriate educational services; the results are not reported to agencies outside the school district or used to determine legal status.
Assessment of English Proficiency
Learners who have experience with languages other than English are assessed using a state-approved Wida screener or the MODEL. These screeners measure the learner’s current language proficiency level in English in the areas of speaking, listening, reading, and writing based on grade bands; k, 1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, 9-12. The particular screener depends on the age of the student:
|Grade Level||Assessment||Qualifies for EL service if:|
|Fall of Kindergarten||Kindergarten WIDA Model||Total composite for listening and speaking is lower than 4.5|
|Winter/Spring Kindergaten Fall of Grade 1||Kindergarten WIDA Model||Total for listening and speaking is below 4.5 composite OR
Any domain is lower than 3.5
|Spring Grade 1 - Grade 12||WIDA Screener||Composite is below 4.5 OR A single domain is below 4.0|
Multilingual learners are often proficient in basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) while still lagging in cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) . In this situation, EL services support the student in growing their academic proficiency so that they will be successful in school. Similarly, a student may be very strong in a specific domain (such as speaking English), but would still benefit from support in areas that are less visible outside of school, such as writing. For this reason, Eastern Carver County Schools strongly recommends EL services for any student who qualifies following the criteria above.
Placing Learners at Proficiency Levels
Based on the results of their assessment, learners are placed according to their current proficiency level as defined by the WIDA consortium (outlined in graphic below). The placement level determines the scope and type of service they receive (outlined later in this document, in the “Scope and Amount of Service” section). Proficiency levels are reviewed and adjusted annually; in addition, teachers differentiate and according to growth during the year.
Parent Notification and Right of Refusal
Each fall, families of learners who qualify for EL services will receive written notification from Eastern Carver County Schools via US Mail. Parents or guardians have the right to refuse services for their child. Eastern Carver County Schools is required to have documentation in writing of this refusal, and has created the “Parent Opt-Out Form” for parents or guardians to complete annually. Refusing services does not exempt a learner from the annual statewide test of proficiency, the WIDA Access. Parents or guardians will need to fill out the test refusal form as well to exempt their learner from testing.
Our elementary EL program creates a strong academic environment that allows students to become proficient in English. This is achieved by a variety of pull-out, push-in, co-teaching, and/or content classroom support that best meets an individual student's needs.
K-5 Elementary EL Program accelerates English Language learning through the use and application of the following principles:
- Helping students develop proficiency all four language skills - reading, writing, speaking, and listening - interdependently, but at different rates and in different ways.
- Providing explicit instruction in learning Academic Language and academic content knowledge.
- Enhancing access to instructional tasks requiring complex thinking by matching language support to individual student levels of language proficency.
- Using authentic literature to build the vocabulary and background knowledge needed to comprehend the challenging language of the classroom
- Acknowledging and respecting each student's language, culture, and values.
District Education Center
Bluff Creek Elementary
WIDA is a consortium of states dedicated to the design and implementation of high standards and equitable educational opportunities for English Language Learners. Everything WIDA does revolves around the significance of academic language and how to empower language learners to reach for success.
WIDA supports academic language development and academic achievement for linguistically diverse students through high quality Enlish Language Development standards, Can-Do Descriptors, ACCESS for ELLs, and other assessments for grades K-12.
Learn more here: www.wida.us
Once a learner has achieved a level of English proficiency comparable to their grade-level peers, they are exited from the EL program. Exiting is determined by student performance on the WIDA ACCESS assessment given annually. A student is exited when their composite score is greater than 4.5 and their score on at least three of the four domains is 3.5 or greater.
After exit, learners who received services are monitored for two years to ensure they do not have a persistent language need that is impacting their school achievement. School leaders and EL teachers review academic performance for exited students twice a year during this period. If a student’s academic growth has slowed upon exit (as measured by achievement tests and/or report card grades), the EL teacher will work to determine if a language need is at the root of the drop, and work with mainstream teachers to implement strategies to support the learner.
When the interventions are unsuccessful and a learner’s achievement continues to suffer, the learner will be considered for re-entry to EL services. Eastern Carver County Schools will notify the learner’s family of the intent to re-evaluate, and the learner will assessed following the same procedures outlined earlier in this document. As always, the learner’s parents or guardians have the right of refusal regarding assessment and program re-entry.
Following their initial placement, learners are formally reassessed annually using the WIDA ACCESS. The results of this assessment are used to evaluate the EL program and determine appropriate service for the learner. Student placement and corresponding amount of service is determined in the subsequent year using the results. The assessment also determines when a learner no longer needs EL services. More information on exiting the program is in the final section of this document.
Parents or guardians have the right to refuse to have their student assessed. Eastern Carver County Schools is required to have written documentation of this refusal. Families who have refused EL Services are not automatically exempted from the WIDA ACCESS assessment, and must also submit their refusal in writing using the test refusal form found on the district website.
Eastern Carver County Schools relies on current research to design and deliver EL services to qualifying learners. English Language instruction is delivered within the context of grade-level content and standards, and multilingual learners spend as much of their school day as possible with their grade-level peers. In addition, the services are scheduled in and provided in such a way to ensure that qualifying learners are still able to access all services and programs as their non-qualifying peers. This includes extra curricular activities, as well as specialized education and gifted services (for those who qualify).
This section describes the instructional models used across the district and the expected amount of service a learner can expect.
|Co-Taught Courses||Grades K-12||EL teachers are paired with mainstream teachers. The teachers plan and deliver lessons together; typically the mainstream teacher is the expert on the content area, while the EL teacher helps to embed language instruction. Teachers share the instructional load during class time, and partner to differentiate learning for all students in the class.|
|Small Group Instruction||Grades K-5||EL teachers meet with small groups of qualifying students at the same grade level and similar proficiency levels. Lessons are delivered which are aligned to content-area standards at the grade level of the student and feature more intense language instruction and scaffolding. EL teachers work with classroom teachers to ensure that learners are able to master the content missed during the pull-out lesson.|
|Sheltered Instruction||Grades 6-12||Licensed EL teachers instruct learners in content areas using high levels of scaffolding and direct language support. The curriculum in sheltered courses mirror equivalent mainstream courses, and care is taken to ensure the expectations are equally rigorous so that learners are able to seamlessly enter mainstream courses in later terms.|
|Dual Immersion (Spanish)||Grades K-10||Research demonstrates that instruction and growth in a learner’s first language facilitates their acquisition of a second. The Dual Immersion program includes a minimum of 25% students whose first language is English and 25% whose first language is Spanish. Students develop literacy in both languages alongside native speakers to serve as role models. Spanish speakers who qualify for EL services receive service in addition to this curriculum.|
Scope and Amount of Service
A student is considered to be receiving EL services when they are receiving instruction from a licensed EL teacher that is aligned to their proficiency level and academic strengths.
|Grades||Direct Service Models||WIDA Level 1||WIDA Levels 2-3||WIDA Level 4|
Small group instruction
|225-400 minutes/ week||150-300 minutes/ week||150-225 minutes/ week|
|2-3 class periods||1-2 class periods||1 period with an EL teacher|