How to develop ESL programming
This story is the second in a series on English Language Learners (ELLs) in South Dakota. In the next installment, learn more about programming in the Huron and Sioux Falls School Districts.
South Dakota’s population of English Language Learners has grown from around 3,500 to approximately 5,000 students in the past five to seven years. That number could grow another 20 percent in the next five years, according to Shannon Malone, Title I Director for the South Dakota Department of Education.
To meet the needs of English Language Learners, schools must develop programming and train teaching staff. Recognizing the unique challenges of educating ELLs, the 2013 South Dakota Legislature passed legislation that provides additional funding for students who are considered limited English proficient. The funding amounts to 25 percent of the current per-student allocation.
This article provides answers to some of the most commonly asked questions as districts work to meet the needs of ELL students.
Where does a school or district start when educating ELLs for the first time?
At the beginning of the school year, ELLs must be identified and screened, and their parents must be notified of available services within 30 days of enrollment. Once the school year is underway, the window for identification, screening and parental notification of eligibility is within two weeks of enrollment.
How do I know if a student needs ELL services?
A local school district is required to administer a home language survey to all students enrolling in the district as the first step in the screening process to identify students with limited English proficiency. Many districts include this survey on their initial enrollment document. The survey consists of four questions:
1) What is the language most frequently spoken at home?
2) Which language did your child learn when he/she first began to talk?
3) What language does your child most frequently speak at home?
4) What language do you most frequently speak to your child?
If the response to any of these questions is a language other than English, school districts are required to give a language proficiency identifier test.
If the home language survey does not indicate that the student speaks another language, other indicators may still exist. For example, the student may have been receiving ESL services in another state or staff may have documented concerns based on classroom observations or performance. These indicators can also prompt administration of a language proficiency identifier test.
Parents can refuse ELL services if a student is identified as ELL.
What is a language proficiency identifier test?
Since 2009, South Dakota has been a member of the WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment) Consortium. The WIDA-Access Placement Test (W-APT) is used to determine whether or not a student is Limited English Proficient (LEP).
To gain access to this assessment, a login/password is needed. This information is given to district testing coordinators. Contact the South Dakota Department of Education Office of Assessment and Accountability for more information.
It’s been determined that a student qualifies for ELL services. Now what?
Once a student has been identified as LEP, it is recommended that a district create a Language Acquisition Plan (LAP) for the student. It is important to involve people who will be working closely with the student, for example, the course content teacher, English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and/or Title III coordinator, parent or guardian, building administrator and, if appropriate, the student. Click here for a sample LAP.
See Appendix D of The South Dakota Guide for Establishing and Maintaining Programs and Services for English Language Learners for ELL program models from several rural districts with small numbers of ELL students.
Where can teachers obtain an ENL (English as a New Language) Endorsement?
In our state, South Dakota State University, the University of South Dakota and Augustana College currently offer the coursework necessary for endorsement. More schools add coursework every year. Some courses, but not the full endorsement, are also available at Black Hills State University and Northern State University.
What other training is available for teachers who work with ELL students?
There is a wide variety of professional development available:
• Always check the department’s Calendar of Events for relevant training.
• WIDA provides the department with training days each year.
• South Dakota also partners with the North Central Comprehensive Center located at the Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory (McREL).
• The department’s offices of Title III and Migrant Education offer training.
• The Dakota TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) holds an annual conference.
• Teachers may wish to seek out co-teaching professional development for guidance on working in cooperation with an ENL teacher.
• SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) training can be contracted through Pearson.
Our school district doesn’t have enough ELL students enrolled to qualify for our own Title III funding. Can we partner with other schools?
Yes. School districts receiving an allocation of less than $10,000 in Title III funding must enter into a consortium partnership with one or more local districts. Title III funds assigned to consortia must be combined or “pooled,” and all consortium partners must agree on one plan for utilizing the funds. To date, four consortia have been formed in South Dakota.
How does a school/district go about developing the most effective programming for ELL students?
A language instruction program should support language development in addition to content. ELLs need to learn English and meet high standards. When considering programs, educators should think about an instructional plan that helps ELLs attain English proficiency in addition to learning content. Districts and schools should consider ELL needs and available resources in selecting a program model.
Click here for a chart of various program types.
In addition, click here for a chart of several co-teaching/coaching/collaboration strategies.
For further information, consult The South Dakota Guide for Establishing and Maintaining Programs and Services for English Language Learners, a guidebook developed with the help of educators from across the state. This guide outlines school and district responsibilities, program development, goals of language instruction programs, and much more.
In the next installment of this series, read about ESL programming in action in the Huron and Sioux Falls School Districts, home to South Dakota’s two largest populations of English Language Learners.
For more information, contact Yutzil Rodriguez, South Dakota Department of Education, at (605) 773-4698.