Questions & Answers About English Learners
WHO IS AN ENGLISH LEARNER (EL)?
Any individual who does not speak English as their primary language and who has a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English is identified as an English Learner, or "EL." As a group, ELs represent one of the fastest-growing groups among the school-aged population in this nation. English Learner programs in the past have also been called Limited English Proficient (EL) and English Language Learners (ELL).
WHICH LANGUAGES ARE MOST COMMONLY SPOKEN BY MULTILINGUAL STUDENTS IN HIGHLAND?
Ukrainian and Hindi are the most common languages spoken by multilingual families in the district. Other languages include Arabic, Gujarati, Korean, Mandarin, Romanian, Serbian, and Vietnamese.
WHY ARE SCHOOL DISTRICTS RESPONSIBLE FOR MEETING THE NEEDS OF EL STUDENTS?
There is an extensive body of Federal and case law which establishes the rights of students who would be considered English Learners (EL). These laws define district's responsibilities in serving these students. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. In Lau v. Nichols (1974) the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that school districts must take steps to help limited-English proficient (EL) students overcome language barriers and to ensure that they can participate meaningfully in a district's educational programs. All EL students to be tested at least once a year using the Ohio English Language Proficiency Assessment (OELPA). Achievement and progress of our English Learners are reported on the Gap Closing component on the district report card issued by the Ohio Department of Education each year. Information about the English Language Proficiency (ELP) Improvement Measure can be found here.
HOW DOES A SCHOOL DISTRICT KNOW WHETHER STUDENTS WHO SPEAK A LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH REQUIRE EL SERVICES?
School districts must administer a Home Language Survey to all students enrolled or newly enrolled in the district as the first screening process to identify students with limited English proficiency. The home language survey includes the following four questions:
- What language did your son/daughter speak when he/she first learned to talk?
- What language does your son/daughter use most frequently at home?
- What language do you use most frequently when speaking to your son/daughter?
- What language do the adults at home most often speak?
In Highland, these questions appear on the district's Registration Form. If the answer to any of the questions is any language other than English, the Ohio English Language Proficiency Screener (OELPS) will be used to evaluate the student's listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. The results of the testing determine whether the student is Fully Proficient in English, Progressing or Emerging. Students who are progressing or emerging are eligible for language support services.
WHAT IS THE GOAL OF EL SERVICES?
The goal of EL services is to provide effective instruction in the English language in the domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, and where appropriate, modifications and accommodations in the mainstream classroom, so that students develop the language skills necessary to be successful both academically and socially.
HOW ARE EL STUDENTS SERVED?
Students at similar proficiency and grade levels are taken out of their mainstream classes for EL instruction where the curriculum focuses on the four areas of language development: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The amount of time and frequency of classes are determined by the student's level of proficiency as well as other scheduling considerations. Tutors who work with our EL students on English acquisition are Ohio licensed teachers with a TESOL endorsement. Our EL tutors also provide support to the student’s classroom teachers.
CAN PARENTS DECLINE EL SERVICES?
Parental consent is required in order for a student to receive tutoring services, however, parents may refuse EL services for their child at which point EL support is given to the classroom teacher. That being said, it is important that parents consider the implications of their decision, since students identified EL are required to take the OELPA yearly until State exit requirements are met.
EL students often lack the academic language necessary for success in school. This lack of proficiency in academic language affects their ability to comprehend and analyze texts in middle and high school, limits their ability to write and express themselves effectively, and can hinder their acquisition of academic content in all academic areas, including mathematics.
Thinking and reading critically, mastering persuasive expression, and solving complex problems are now central to success in negotiating the complexities of today's workplace. To be successful academically, students need to develop the specialized language of content areas that is distinct from conversational language.
HOW LONG DOES A DISTRICT HAVE TO PROVIDE SERVICES TO EL STUDENTS?
Services must be provided to EL students until they are deemed proficient enough in English to be successful in the classroom. Exit criteria are based on an objective measure (the OELPA) of a student's ability to read, write, speak and understand English.