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Friday is deadline to comment on MDUSD’s draft English Learner Master Plan

By Theresa Harrington
Thursday, February 9th, 2012 at 9:54 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The district is accepting comments on its draft English Learner Master Plan through 3 p.m. Friday.

I visited Meadow Homes Elementary this week to hear a presentation about the plan and see some bilingual classes in action.

The presenters stressed that Chapter 2 regarding instructional programs is the most important part of the draft plan — for those who may not be able to read the entire document. I am posting the beginning of that chapter below, along with a link to the entire draft plan and the online survey.

“K-12 Instructional Programs

Mount Diablo Unified School District offers the following program options to English learners:

(1) Structured English Immersion (SEI),
(2) English Language Mainstream,
(3) Bilingual Alternative Programs.

Each of these options is designed to ensure that students acquire English language proficiency and to prevent and/or address any academic deficiencies that they may have developed in other areas of the core curriculum. All options contain the following required components:

 Well-articulated, research-based, standards-aligned, differentiated English Language Development (ELD) instruction, specifically designed for ELs.
 Well-articulated, research-based, standards-aligned, differentiated instruction in the core curriculum.
 Primary language support and/or Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE) when instruction is in English.
 Structured activities designed to develop cultural proficiency and positive self-esteem.

All English learners, regardless of the program option in which they are enrolled, are expected to make adequate progress in English proficiency and in mastery of grade level standards.

Guidelines regarding the definition of adequate progress are listed in Chapter 6, Evaluation and Accountability.

It is the intent of the district to ensure that the core instructional program is standardized across the district, so that all students, no matter what school they attend, have access to a researchbased, high quality program for English learners that is designed to meet their individual needs. This includes English Language Development and content support.

K-12 PROGRAMS MUST MEET THE NEEDS OF ENGLISH LEARNERS

There are five distinct groups of English Learners in the Mount Diablo Unified School District:

1. Newly arrived English Learners with uninterrupted formal schooling
2. Newly arrived English Learners with limited or interrupted formal schooling
3. Long-term English Learners (more than 6 years as English Learners)
4. English Learners with less than 6 years who are not meeting benchmarks and/or not making expected progress toward language and academic goals
5. English Learners who are meeting benchmarks and making expected progress toward language and academic goals

Programs will be adapted to meet the needs of students in each of these groups as discussed below.

Newly Arrived English Learners with Uninterrupted Formal Schooling

These students may or may not have had some exposure to the formal study of English. However, they have had a formal educational program in their native country, and many have the knowledge background that supports them in their content instruction in English. At the elementary school level, these students are likely to have an adequate background in the core academic subject areas, with the exception of English Language Arts. The most advantageous placement might be in a bilingual classroom with an approved parental exception waiver (especially for students at CELDT levels 1-3), where they will be assisted in transferring their primary language literacy and core academic skills to English (see Francis, Leseaux and August, 2006; August and Shanahan, 2010). In the absence of an approved waiver, these students will be placed in a Structured English Immersion or English Language Mainstream setting, depending on their CELDT level. Such programs can be effective if they provide “good instruction with appropriate scaffolding” (see August et. al., 2006).

At the secondary school level, students functioning at CELDT levels 1, 2 and the lower half of the 3 range (low 3) will typically benefit from an alternative bilingual program that may be provided with an approved parental exception waiver, if there are sufficient students in the language group to make a bilingual alternative class available. They also might be candidates for placement in a newcomer program as determined by student enrollment and population needs.”

An alternative bilingual program would provide the following:

• Year-long leveled ELD – 2 periods (students at ELD levels 1 and 2 should not be mixed for instruction, due to differences in language development needs).
• Core academic classes (i.e., language arts, history/social science, mathematics, science) taught in the primary language.
• Electives that are non-language dependent.

Students scoring in the upper half of the CELDT 3 range (high 3) in secondary schools are likely to need:

• Year-long leveled ELD and/or ELA with accommodations for language proficiency level.
• Core courses taught through SDAIE with primary language support.
• Electives (choice not normally limited by language proficiency level).

Newly Arrived English Learners with Limited or Interrupted Formal Schooling

Immigrant students with little or no prior schooling typically score at the beginning level of reading and writing in their primary language, and have low skill levels in other subject areas as well. Many students arrive with interrupted schooling in their native country and lack the background knowledge necessary for success in a grade level academic program. These students need an academic program that will address their primary language literacy needs. At the elementary school level, appropriate grade level placement with appropriately leveled ELD is critical. SEI will be generally preferable to a mainstream English setting. Placement in a bilingual program (with an approved parental exception waiver) is optimal for many of the students in this group.

In secondary schools, students in this category are likely to need an academic program with the following features:

• Year-long leveled ELD – 2 periods
• Primary language literacy
• Mathematics taught in their primary language
• Other content classes taught in the primary language
• Electives that are less language dependent in the beginning years

The above assumes that the student has an approved waiver for participation in a bilingual program, and there are sufficient students (20 or more at the same grade level) in the language group to justify such a program. Every effort will be made to provide needed primary language content classes when the number of students is sufficient to justify the class.

Long-Term English Learners

These students have more than six years of uninterrupted schooling in the United States. Longterm English Learners often have high oral fluency in English, but have not yet achieved the academic criteria to qualify for reclassification.

In determining program placement, it is important to first identify the student’s academic and linguistic needs and then consider the following in regards to the student’s educational history, in order to determine if the student’s performance is related to his/her level of ELD, or to other issues that affect academic performance:

• The student’s number of years in U.S. schools
• The quality and consistency of ELD instruction the student has had
• The consistency of the student’s instructional program
• Patterns of language usage in the home

At the elementary school level, these students should be on English Learner Catch-Up Plan [see Chapter 3]). As part of these plans, most will be assigned to formal interventions that address both language and academic needs.

Secondary school students in this category are likely to need the following:

• Focused efforts to motivate and engage the student who has spent a number of years struggling to master both language and content
• Accelerated ELD, either through an English Language Arts class with accommodations for the student’s level of ELD, or an intervention class that addresses both language and literacy skills
• English Language Mainstream or SEI instruction in the core academic subjects, provided by an appropriately credentialed CLAD or BCLAD teacher
• Academic advising and monitoring to ensure that the student is enrolled in appropriate classes meeting secondary school promotion/graduation requirements
• Intervention support (before, during or after the school day and summer school if available)
• If not already on a catch-up plan, these students should be given one English Learners with Less than 6 years who are not meeting benchmarks and/or not making expected progress

These students have two to five years of uninterrupted schooling in the United States. Their level of English language development is variable, depending on their level of English upon entry to U.S. schools, the quality and consistency of their program in past years, and the pace of their year-to-year progress. At both the elementary and secondary levels, these students will need catch-up plans with interventions designed to accelerate their language and academic progress (see Chapter 3 for a detailed discussion of catch-up plans). Implementation of these plans needs to be carefully monitored to ensure that the student is showing accelerated progress.

English Learners who are Meeting Academic and English Language Development (ELD) Benchmarks

These students are typically showing expected growth on the CELDT, at least at the rate recommended by the state, and are scoring proficient or close to proficient on the California Standards Tests (second grade and up), or meeting benchmarks on district established literacy and numeracy benchmarks in Kindergarten and first grade. In the elementary grades, these students should move along a pathway leading to reclassification. Some will begin in Structured English Immersion, with reclassification and assignment to English Language Mainstream before promotion to middle school. Others will begin in a bilingual alternative program and will typically remain in that program after reclassification.

Each ELD level is flexible with respect to duration, in order to allow a student to move to a higher level during the year, when assessment results indicate the student is ready. Students who master the course content standards are promoted to the next level or exited from the program. Students may need to repeat a level until they meet requirements for transition to the next level.

Secondary master schedules should allow for fluid and flexible movement throughout the year. In order for students to develop proficiency in English as rapidly as possible, they must be able to develop at their own pace, and must be able to move up ELD levels whenever necessary. They should not have to wait until the end of a semester/trimester or course in order to move levels.

Change in ELD levels will be based on the following:

• CELDT progress
• ELD benchmark assessment results
• Classroom performance
• ELD curriculum-embedded assessments
• Teacher recommendation

Students who meet or exceed benchmarks as evidenced by semester/trimester reviews and/or teacher recommendation should be encouraged to accelerate to higher ELD levels.”

The chapter goes on to describe the programs available. Here is a link to the entire plan: http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/sass/Documents/elp/master-plan-for-english-learners-draft.pdf.

Here is a link to the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DDLX65R.

The English Learner Master Plan Task Force will review the comments and refine the plan before forwarding it to the school board for approval.

The public is invited to attend the task force meetings, which will be held from 4-7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 and March 15 at the Willow Creek Center, 1026 Mohr Lane in Concord.

More information is avaialable by calling 925-682-8000 ext. 4026 or by visiting http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/sass/Pages/elp.aspx.

Some notable changes in the plan include extending mandatory English Language Development instruction from 30 minutes a day to 45-minutes a day and extending bilingual classes from K-3 to K-5.

What do you think of the plan?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • Anon

    While I believe it is important, I am appalled that as much as 90 minutes per day will be spent with a small group of students, while the rest of the class will be ignored. Why can’t this be done as a pull out, as speech is? I know, I know, there is no money.
    Private school is looking better by the minute!

  • anon

    TH: were parents/guardians given other options to provide input on this master EL Plan other than an Internet response? Not all families have access to a computer. And if the only other option is to call the posted phone #, will the person on the receiving end be able to communicate in the caller’s language? Also, why weren’t students in middle and high school provided the opportunity to respond? If you’re able to find out the answers to these questions, please keep us posted.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Anon: At the Meadow Homes Elementary presentation, parents were given paper “input forms” and told they could write their comments and turn them into the school. The school would then fax the comments to the district, parents were told.
    A variety of presentations were given to different groups throughout the district, but I don’t think secondary students were specifically asked for their input. However, i believe the task force includes a few students.
    Also, anyone can go to the task force meetings Feb. 23 and March 15 to give feedback, so it’s not too late for students to weigh in.