Diman RTVHS supports English learners (ELs) with a sheltered English immersion (SEI) program. After applying the principles outlined in Castañeda’s Three-Pronged Test and considering both the needs of our ELs and the resources available, we have decided to continue offering an SEI program and improve upon it accordingly. With a strong SEI program tailored specifically to Diman, our ELs can receive explicit language instruction in English as a Second Language (ESL), develop skills pertaining to academic/vocational language functions, and participate meaningfully in all the school offers.
To see that our program is articulated correctly, we have an English learner education team consisting of the following members: principal, academic coordinator, vocational coordinator, data specialist, guidance director, ESL teacher, and family liaison. By having a team that represents so many aspects of the school, we can address all components of the program in a unified way. We collaborate at critical times throughout the year to assess the effectiveness of the program and make decisions about items such as assessment, monitoring and reclassification. Our EL population continues to increase, and we want to support them in a balanced way that ensures proper communication and execution.
Our SEI program adheres to the two-component model consisting of 1) sheltered content instruction taught by SEI-endorsed teachers and 2) ESL taught by an ESL-licensed teacher.
Sheltered content is delivered by academic and vocational teachers throughout the day. SEI-endorsed teachers confer with the ESL teacher to ensure their SEI strategies remain current. The ESL teacher also strengthens the overall SEI practice at the school by sharing up-to-date ideas with all teachers and offering guidance/modeling when necessary.
Direct ESL instruction is given to ELs in an ESL class scheduled daily during academic weeks. This class holds the same weight and credit as comparable content classes. (An additional class of ESL is given to newcomers with very limited English proficiency.) Because we are a vocational school with a rotating week schedule, we have also created pull-out and push-in opportunities during vocational weeks so that students have uninterrupted ESL instruction. Allotting time during both academic and vocational cycles is vital because the continuity allows ELs to develop English in a sustained way. Likewise, they have the benefit of acquiring rich language skills not only on the academic side but on the technical side as well.
We consider ELs to be students whose native languages are not English and who cannot use or understand English sufficiently to perform classroom work that meets standard expectations.
All newly enrolled students must be administered a home language survey (HLS) and whoever completes the survey must be informed that the HLS is not to confirm citizenship status. If the HLS indicates that there is another language spoken at home, the students should be assessed for English language proficiency. We use WIDA Screener Online to initially identify students if they are not students who entered Diman with ACCESS results from the last calendar year or students reclassified as former English learners (FELs) in their previous schools.
Based on the screening results or acquired data results, the team makes initial placement decisions. If the students have scores of 4.5 or higher in the overall composite level and the literacy level, then they are classified as “not ELs” and do not get placed in our SEI program. If they perform lower than 4.5 in those categiories, they are identified as ELs and are placed in our SEI program.
We then notify parents of the testing results and placement decision. There are two notifications. The first is sent by mail no later then 10 days from enrollment and focuses on things like the purpose and content of our SEI program and parents’ rights in relation to the program. The second notification must be sent out within the first 30 days of the school year and specifically addresses points such as reasons for placement, levels of English proficiency, methods the program will use, exit requirements, connections to IEPs (if applicable), and parents’ right to complete opt-out requests.
If parents elect to opt-out, students continue to receive sheltered English instruction in mainstream classrooms and are mandated to be assessed annually with WIDA ACCESS. The only component they will not receive is direct instruction from the ESL teacher. Requests to opt-out would need to be submitted each school year.
Once initial placements are made, the district updates the applicable fields and submits the data for SIMS. From there, Diman maintains records pertinent to the program such as test scores, progress reports, reclassification information, monitoring documentation, and evidence of written communication with home.
Placement, Progress Monitoring, and Reclassification
ELs at Diman are able to fully engage in curricular and extracurricular programs and activities. They have access to and are encouraged to participate in honors classes, after-school clubs/sports, etc. Likewise, they are entitled to receive guidance and counseling in their native language when needed.
Some ELs may have a disability and require special education services. Because services are not mutually exclusive, we offer all supports and resources to eligible students. To avoid inappropriately identifying Els as students with disabilities, we evaluate ELs in an appropriate language.
Our annual summative assessment is WIDA ACCESS. The scores produced by ACCESS identifies which proficiency level an EL has achieved mid-year in the domains of speaking, listening, reading, and writing and the composite areas of literacy, oral language, and overall proficiency.
We have the WIDA MODEL as an interim assessment, but we do not require it to be administered. Ongoing formative assessment is more beneficial for tracking growth because language development is not a linear process. Formative assessment practices with feedback and adjustments give a continued flow of information concerning instructional objectives.
Every year, English proficiency benchmarks are determined for individual ELs. The Language Opportunity for Our Kids Act (LOOK Act) requires that we create goals for ELs who are not on track to attaining English proficiency within six years of entering a Massachusetts public school. To help ELs meet benchmarks and establish personalized goals, our team follows the English learning success template (ELST), reviews data/best practices, and obtains input from family.
To exit students from EL status, we first consider ACCESS results. We also check other relevant data to determine whether the students can perform at expectations. Students with at least an overall score of 4.2 and composite literacy score of 3.9 on ACCESS may be reclassified as former English learners (FELs) if they can demonstrate ability to perform classwork in English using one of the following measures: MCAS content area tests, academic grades in school, or documented recommendations by classroom teachers.
When students are determined as FELs, they are removed from the SEI program and re-coded for the upcoming SIMS report. Notification is sent home and all the school records are updated. For four years, FELs are monitored through a system of reviewing student progress in school and communicating with parents. If our team determines a need to make a student an EL again because of a lack of English, we will obtain parent consent and officially return the student to the ELE program.
Access for ELLs Levels (WIDA)
||Knows and uses minimal social language and minimal academic language with visual and graphic support.
||Knows and uses some social English and general academic language with visual and graphic support.
||Knows and uses social English and some specific academic language with visual and graphic support.
||Knows and uses social English and some technical academic language.
||Knows and uses social English and academic language working with modified grade level material.