Friday, May 18, 2007
Carlisle School expands English Language Learner program
The Carlisle School will begin the second year of the state-mandated English Language Learner (ELL) program in the fall and Director of Student Services Karen Slack estimates expenses will rise from $16,000 to $40,000, in part to hire a part-time ELL-certified teacher. The program's cost varies, depending on the needs of students who enter the school system each year.
At the May 2 Carlisle School Committee (CSC) meeting Slack reported that 12 students have been identified as needing ELL services, and noted, "We were not expecting that level." CSC Chair Nicole Burkel replied, "I think I missed something here," noting that at previous meetings only one or two students had been identified.
Slack explained that 20 students were tested, and out of that group 12 were found to require some level of services. "We were out of compliance [with the ELL mandate]," she explained. Carlisle's ELL students represent at least six different languages, Slack said, but the school is not required to offer a translator.
The Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) requires all public schools to have an ELL program, which provides assistance to any student whose first language is other than English. In a later interview Slack explained that children who are identified as possible ELL students must be tested each year. Since no students were tested previously, Carlisle will see a rapid growth of services this year. Although the ELL program is a state mandate, there are no state funds for districts of Carlisle's size. Massachusetts supports the federal Title III ELL grant program, which provides support for districts with over 100 ELL students. Towns close to Carlisle receiving ELL Title III funds include Lowell, Lexington, and Hudson.
Levels of ELL
Slack said there are three levels of ELL:
· beginning and early intermediate, for students who cannot produce or understand any English, whether spoken or written;
· intermediate, for students who lack academic proficiency in English;
· transitioning, or "FLEP" (Former Limited English Proficient) , for students who may need to be monitored but do not need direct services.
The English Language Arts MCAS can also be used as a way to confirm whether the student is receiving the right level of ELL services, the DOE web site explains.
The part-time ELL teacher will assist students in a program called "Sheltered Language Immersion" as well as provide support to the regular classroom teachers. Carlisle's two students who are at the beginning level receive five or six hours a week of assistance out of the classroom, students in the intermediate level receive one to one and one half hours of instruction, while the "transitioning" students, while not receiving direct services, are checked regularly and may need academic modifications until their command of English is stronger. "Their social language comes quickly," Slack explained, "but the academic language takes longer."
"We are looking to see if we can put in training seminars for all levels of training," Slack said, explaining there are four areas of ELL training that certified teachers must take: teaching a second language; instruction content; assessing student progress; and reading and writing in ELL classes. Slack hopes that if training is offered, more of Carlisle's faculty will become qualified to teach ELL students.
More information, see the state Department of Education web site: www.doe.mass.edu/ell.
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