The primary goal of Pike Township's English Language Learners Program is to raise the level of English proficiency of all language minority students of limited English proficiency (also called English Language Learners or ELLs) to that of native English speakers at their respective grade levels. The immediate goal is basic communication skills in English for these students. Equally important longer-range goals include increased success of ELLs in academic area classes, students’ improved social adjustment and cross-cultural understanding, and, ultimately, their exit from the program.
ELLs, their families, and building personnel need to be aware that there are two different levels of language proficiency. The first involves basic interpersonal communication skills used in everyday, face-to-face situations. Fluency in these skills often takes about two to three years to develop. The second level, cognitive academic language proficiency, involves literacy and skill in the use of academic language and of learning strategies in English. These skills can take some students six to eight years to develop. Without fluency at both skill levels the language minority student cannot succeed in school without special support from mainstream and ENL staff.
Research and experience have indicated that it is best to place incoming ELLs with peers who are the same age/grade level. There may be exceptions to the above recommendation, as in the case of students whose education has been interrupted. Grade placement must always be considered carefully, because the ELL will be greatly influenced by his/her peers.
Pike Township employs certified, preferably ELL-endorsed teachers to provide ELL instructional coaching and services in the program. The Director of Curriculum and Instruction along with the Academic Support Specialist oversee the ELL program. The ELL teacher/Instructional Coach are responsible for training other staff to work with ELL students in the general education classroom. This professional development is offered through in-services, individual conferences, e-mail and other written communication, and securing and sharing information on Department of Education training sessions and consultative services.
Pike Township employs bilingual Spanish-English interpreters to assist students, teachers, and families with enrollment, access to services, conferences, and other communications between family and school. As needed, Pike Township contracts with interpreters of other languages to meet the diverse language needs of the school district.
In compliance with TESOL standards, accreditation guidelines, and the U. S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR), instruction is provided on basic interpersonal communication skills, development of language proficiency and learning strategies, listening and speaking, and reading and writing in content areas. This instruction is provided by ELL staff which includes ELL teachers/Instructional Coaches, specialists, trained classroom teachers, teacher assistants, and parent and community volunteers.
All educational personnel must assume responsibility for the education of ELL students.
The amount and time of direct ELL instructional services are based on individual student needs and grade level (elementary, middle, high school). Research indicates that students who have a higher degree of oral proficiency but are lacking in academic language skills still require English language development and support due to increasing academic demands. When small group instruction occurs, students will be grouped by similar age, grade, and skill levels. This structure provides stronger language learning than one-on-one instruction because it facilitates real communication.
The ELL students’ schedules are created in cooperation with classroom teachers, specialists, and other building personnel. In elementary/middle school, ELL services could include push-in or pull-out services, sheltered instruction and/or a Newcomers Program.
The Newcomers Program is designed to support students who are in the earliest stages of language development (Levels 1 and 2). These programs are offered in first grade at Central Elementary, College Park Elementary, Deer Run Elementary, Eastbrook Elementary and at Guion Creek Middle School and Pike High School. In high school, students are assigned to ELL for one period per day or they too can participate in the Newcomer’s Program. In addition, whenever possible, secondary ELL staff is available for an academic resource period to support the heavy academic demands the students must meet to learn English. High school ELL students receive one English credit per semester for ELL. Beginning with the 2004 graduating class, state regulations provide that students may count no more than four credits in ELL toward graduation, and these may be applied to either English credit or foreign language credit. Recognizing that ELL students may continue to need support beyond the four semesters for which they may receive ELL credit, the ELL staff takes steps to provide support within these regulations to all students who need it.
In accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act, English Language Learners must take ISTEP+ and may be given state-specific accommodations. The only exception is if an ELL student has been enrolled in a U.S. school for less than one year, then they are exempt from participating in the English/Language Arts portion of ISTEP+. However, they must still participate in the math, science, and social students portions. High School students must pass the Core 40 exams in order to graduate, unless a waiver is obtained during their senior year. Since high school students must take and either pass or obtain a waiver regarding the End of Course Assessment (ECA), high school students in ELL need to take the ISTEP+/ECA each time they are eligible until they pass or are eligible for a waiver during their senior year. All ELL students are also required to participate in LAS Links testing each year. The LAS Links Assessment measures language acquisition and the overall, composite score determines a student’s limited English proficiency (LEP) level. Once a student scores a level 5 for two consecutive years, then they are no longer required to participate in LAS Links testing.
Regarding NWEA testing, ELL students will participate according to their proficiency level (Levels 3, 4 and 5 will participate; Levels 1, 2 and 3 may take the Spanish version of math; Level 1 may participate or be exempt from reading only according to the teacher’s professional judgment).
Data from LAS Links and content-area teacher input are used to determine whether ELL students should continue or exit from the program.
NOTE: The Indiana Department of Education does not recommend exiting students (reclassifying as Fluent English Proficiency - FEP) before the fourth grade.
- Language Proficiency Tests (LAS Links) are administered by a certified teacher.
- Scores required for exit:
- Level 5 overall proficiency on LAS Links for two consecutive years.
- Students successfully complete a two-year formal monitoring period.
- The final decision on exiting a student will be made by the ELL teacher/Instructional Coach.
- All of the above procedures will be documented and kept with the ELL teacher/Instructional Coach. Scores and final exiting decisions will also appear in the student’s permanent file.