With the rise in immigrant students comes a rise in students who do not speak English. Schools are facing the need to not only teach these students their regular academics but also a new language. In Guthrie, Oklahoma, there may seem like there would not be as much need for such programs but the fact is that English language learners are also here. ELL students need assistance from the schools they attend in order to master their English skills and be able to become productive citizens when they graduate.
Schools have had to come up with procedures to identify ELL students, assess and monitor their learning and proficiency, keep teachers informed, and ensure ELL students access to grade-level content and develop language simultaneously. When a new student enters school in Guthrie, Oklahoma first they are required to fill out a home language survey form, (Oklahoma Department of Education, 2012). This form basically asks what the primary language spoken at home is. If another language other than English is spoken then students are required to take the WIDA placement test, (Miles, 2013).
If a student scores below a 5. 0 they are considered to be an English language learner, (Miles, 2013). That is how they identify ELL students at Guthrie Public Schools. Parents also need to be informed of these tests wither 30 days before school starts or within two weeks of school starting, (Oklahoma Department of Education, 2012). Throughout the school year schools have to assess ELL students to determine their progress. At Guthrie public schools ELL students in elementary school are monitored for progress every quarter by a bilingual tutor, (Miles, 2013).
In junior and high school students are monitored daily by their teachers for progress, (Miles, 2013). The tutor and teacher monitor students social activities, their regular classroom environment, their activity in class, behavior, learning comprehension, as well as formal assessments. Formal assessments are tests done every quarter to see how much a student has progressed from the previous quarter. If a student is being social with other students during recess, actively participating in class, and learning the curriculum being taught then the ELL student is considered to be learning and comprehending English.
ELL students are exempt from taking standardized tests for two years so they can become proficient in how to read, write, speak, and understand English, (Miles, 2013). Students must show proficiency in English in order to not be considered ELL anymore, (Oklahoma Department of Education, 2012). Another important part of ensuring the progress of ELL student is keeping their teachers informed of ELL student’s status. The way Guthrie public schools inform teachers of the ELL’s status is by sending them and email or letter with a copy of their test scores, (Miles, 2013).
Teachers need to make accommodations for the students because they want the ELL students completely immersed in English. ELL students attend regular classes with regular peers, (Miles, 2013). Teachers assess ELL students daily just like they assess non ELL students. They do informal assessments like how they participate and communicate in the classroom to assess how they are progressing in English language proficiency and comprehending the curriculum.
Formal assessments teachers may do would be homework sheets where students need to fill in the blank with the correct word or a spelling test. Teachers take the grades ELL students make in their class and assess if students need extra help like a tutor to better their English proficiency skills, (Miles, 2013). The way a school helps an ELL student achieve proficiency will vary depending on the requirements of the school district and state. Guthrie public schools is located in central Oklahoma.
In the 2009-2010 Guthrie public schools had 108 English language learners out of 3,309 total students enrolled in the school district, (USA. com, 2011). They have adapted all of the state requirements which meet the federal No Child Left Behind act. Regardless, of the number of ELL students or location of the school, there school always be a way to identify, assess progress and proficiency level, keep teachers informed of ELL’s language proficiency and ensure ELL students have access to grade-level content and develop new language skills simultaneously.
Schools should always be prepared to receive new students into their school and welcome them with a positive school spirit. REFERENCES Miles, S. (2013). Phone interview, Head of ELL department for Guthrie Public Schools. Oklahoma Department of Education. (2012). Identification and Exit Criteria for Oklahoma’s English Language Learners. Retrieved from: http://ok. gov/sde/sites/ok. gov. sde/files/Bilingual-ID-ExitCriteria. pdf.
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