ESL Policy

ESL Policy

Purpose:

In accordance with the Vision Academy Charter School (the “Charter School”) Board of Trustee’s (“Board”) philosophy to provide a quality educational program to all students, the Charter School shall provide an appropriately planned instructional program for identified students whose dominant language is not English (“English Language Learners (ELLs)”).

The purpose of the program shall be to increase the English language proficiency of English Language Learners (ELLs) so they can attain the state academic standards within the ESL program setting as well as within the regular classroom environment, to provide equal opportunities for English Language Learners (ELLs) to participate in extra curricular activities, and to provide the cultural, social and emotional supports for English Language Learners (ELLs) to adapt to this new cultural setting.

The Board declares it to be their policy to provide an equal opportunity for all students, including English Language Learners (ELLs), to achieve their maximum potential through the curriculum, instruction and programs offered in the Charter School.  At no time shall the Charter School, including the Board, permit, condone, encourage or facilitate discrimination against students during the course of recruitment, admissions and enrollment, instruction, counseling and daily interactions with Charter School faculty and staff.  Equal Education Opportunity Act, 20 U.S.C.A. § 1703; Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000d, et seq.

Definition:

English Language Learners (ELLs) are from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.  The Charter School must equip them with the skills to function, compete, and prosper in American society.  English Language Learners (ELLs) must develop academic skills along with their general program peers while also learning English.  As English Language Learners (ELLs) are in transition from their native language to English, the emphasis must be on developing academic skills that comply with Pennsylvania State Standards.

Responsibility

The Charter School shall adopt an instructional program for each English Language Learner (ELL) for the purpose of facilitating the student’s achievement of English proficiency and academic standards (“ESL Program”).  22 Pa. Code. § 4.26.  The Principal and the Director or teacher  of the ESL Program (“ESL Director”) shall implement and supervise an ESL Program that meets the legal requirements for ESL Program compliance under federal and  Pennsylvania law:

  1. Based on an educational theory recognized as sound by some experts in the field or considered by experts as a legitimate experimental strategy;
  2. Reasonably calculated, including provisions for resources and personnel, to implement the theory effectively; and
  3. Evaluated and adjusted where needed to ensure language barriers are actually being overcome.

No Child Left Behind Act, 20 U.S.C.A. § 6812.  The ESL program will come under the direction of the ESL Director.  The ESL Director will be responsible for the assurance of the implementation of the program and that proper Charter School policies and procedures are being followed.  The Principal and the ESL Director/Teacher will be responsible for informing Charter School staff with instructional strategies and cultural needs of students who will receive ESL instruction. ESL teaching resource materials will be obtained by the ESL Director and kept in his/her office for reference for both program and non-program teachers.

All teachers instructing within the ESL Program shall hold the requisite certification and endorsements required by Pennsylvania law.  Bilingual teachers must demonstrate academic language proficiency both in English and in the language of instruction.  22 Pa. Code § 403; No Child Left Behind Act, 20 U.S.C.A. § 6826.

ESL Program

The goals of the Charter School’s ESL Program are to assist the English Language Learners (ELLs) in using English, per the No Child Left Behind Act, 20 U.S.C.A. § 6812,:

  1. to communicate in social settings;
  2. to achieve academically in all content areas; and
  3. in socially and culturally appropriate ways.

The Principal and the ESL Director shall implement and supervise the ESL Program, and further ensure that the ESL Program meets the legal requirements for ESL program compliance.  The Principal and the ESL Director, in conjunction with appropriate certified ESL teachers, shall develop and disseminate written procedures regarding the ESL Program.  The procedures shall include, but will not be limited to, the following:

  1. Detailed program goals;
  2. Student enrollment procedures (i.e., Home Language Survey);
  3. Assessment procedures for program entrance, measuring progress in gaining English proficiency, and program exiting;
  4. Accommodations for English Language Learners (ELLs) in the general education classroom;
  5. Grading policies; and
  6. List of resources, including support agencies and interpreters.

No Child Left Behind Act, 20 U.S.C.A. § 6826.  The ESL Program shall include daily instruction for English Language Learners (ELLs), supporting the ESL Program’s goals, and will receive curriculum aligned with Pennsylvania standards.  22 Pa. Code. § 4.26.  Language instruction shall correspond to each English Language Learner (ELL)’s English proficiency level, which shall include both direct language instruction and adaptation of instruction in all content classes.  The exact hours of direct language instruction will be determined based on each English Language Learner (ELL)’s needs.  All ESL instruction shall be part of each English Language Learner (ELL)’s daily schedule, and will not interfere with or prohibit each English Language Learner (ELL)’s instruction in all grade level content classes.

English Language Learners (ELLs) will be placed in all appropriate grade level content classes.  Each English Language Learner (ELL) will receive instruction in all content areas, as other students in the class.  Each English Language Learner (ELL) will receive additional supplemental support and instruction from ESL teachers periodically for Language Arts class and for necessary content area classes.  An ESL teacher will assist the classroom teacher in identifying and implementing teaching strategies that will help each English Language Learner (ELL) achieve academic success in the classroom.  During the initial period of language acquisition and development, the Charter School may grade the English Language Learner (ELL) on a pass/fail basis.

The Pennsylvania English Language Proficiency Standards shall be incorporated in both ESL instruction and grade level content classes.

Program Goals and Objectives

The Charter School has developed the following goals and objectives for the ESL Program.

Goal 1: To use English to communicate in social settings.

Objective:  By the end of the school year, English Language Learners (ELLs) will improve and increase their ability to use English to participate in social interactions.  This will be evidenced by observation of English Language Learners (ELLs) in cooperative learning activities, playground interactions and personal conversation.

Objective: By the end of the school year, English Language Learners (ELLs) will improve and increase their ability to interact, through and with spoken and written English for personal expression and enjoyment.  This will be evidenced by personal writing journals and book choice with reading log.

Goal 2: To use English to achieve academically in all content areas.

Objective:  By the end of the school year, English Language Learners (ELLs) will improve and increase their ability to use English to interact in the classroom, evidenced by conversations with ESL teachers, observations of student in cooperative group settings, and observations of students in social interactions, report cards and test results.

Objective:  By the end of the school year, English Language Learners (ELLs) will improve and increase their ability to use English to obtain, construct and provide subject matter information in spoken and written form.  This will be evidenced by an increase in standardized testing content area scores, a portfolio of English Language Learner (ELL) work, and ESL teachers’ observations of the English Language Learners (ELLs)’ ability to pose questions and have discussions in content area classes.

Goal 3: To use English in socially and culturally appropriate ways.

Objective:  By the end of the school year, English Language Learners (ELLs) will improve and increase their ability to use the appropriate language variety, register, and genre according to the audience, purpose and setting.  This will be evidenced by English Language Learner (ELL) academic presentations, observations of English Language Learners (ELLs)’ social conversations with peers, and conversations with ESL teachers.

Objective:  By the end of the school year, English Language Learners (ELLs) will improve and increase their ability to use nonverbal communication appropriate to audience, purpose and setting.  This will be evidenced by observations of English Language Learners (ELLs) by ESL teachers.

The success of the ESL program will be measured by: English Language Learners (ELLs) increasing scores within their level of the program; English Language Learners (ELLs) testing to the next level of the program; and English Language Learners (ELLs) testing out of the program as evidenced by yearly English proficiency testing.  Success will also be measured by an increase in academic scores on a content area standardized test.  22 Pa. Code § 403; No Child Left Behind Act, 20 U.S.C.A. § 6841.  The ESL Director will also look at student portfolios and ESL teacher narratives to demonstrate progress of each English Language Learner (ELL).

Attendance policies will be the same for English Language Learners (ELLs) as for English-speaking students.

The Student Handbook will clearly state the Charter School’s policy and expectations regarding the ESL Program.

Enrollment of English Language Learners (ELLs):

English Language Learners (ELLs) and families shall be provided translation and interpretation services to the extent needed to assist with the enrollment process.  All students seeking first time enrollment in the Charter School shall be given a Home Language Survey in accordance with the requirements of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.  Enrollment of a student may not be delayed in order to administer the Home Language Survey.  The completed survey shall be filed in each student’s permanent record folder through graduation.  22 Pa. Code § 11.11(e).

Based on the Home Language Survey responses, each student shall be assessed for potential placement in an ESL Program.  A student will be exempt from assessment if the student meets two of the following three criteria:

  1. Final grades of B or better in core subject areas (mathematics, language arts, science and social studies);
  2. Scores on Charter School assessments that are comparable to the basic performance level on the annual Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (“PSSA”); or
  3. Scores of basic in reading, writing and mathematics on the PSSA or the equivalent assessment from another state.

Identification & Placement of English Language Learners (ELLs):

Entry Criteria

The Charter School will use the WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test (W-APT) to assess newly enrolled students for placement in the ESL program.  The W-APT results will be one indicator for placement in the ESL program.  Other indicators shall include current or previous grades, performance on state assessments, and Charter School-based formative or summative assessments.  This ESL-Program eligibility criterion is aligned with requirements established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Student placement in the ESL Program and designated instruction time (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) will comply with program guidelines and will be based upon the instructional need of each English Language Learner (ELL).  Instructional placement will be age and grade appropriate.

Parents may request an English Language Learner (ELL) to be excused from the ESL Program if the instruction conflicts with the family’s religious beliefs.  22 Pa. Code § 4.4(d)(3).

All English Language Learners (ELLs) shall have access to and should be encouraged to participate in all Charter School educational programs, opportunities, and extracurricular activities available.  Equal Education Opportunity Act, 20 U.S.C.A. § 1703; Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000d, et seq.

Exit Criteria

The exit criteria for English Language Learners (ELLs) is intended to establish valid and reliable evidence of a student’s English language proficiency to exit from the ESL Program, in accordance with requirements established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  English Language Learners (ELLs) may exit the ESL Program if they meet exit criteria provided under applicable federal and state laws and regulations.

Once an English Language Learner (ELL) exits the ESL Program, he/she will be monitored for two years.  During that time, the ESL Director will maintain bi-weekly contact with the classroom teacher to monitor the student’s progress.  Monitoring efforts will also include periodic review of grades.  At the end of each year, the student progress will be evaluated, using the PSSA and Charter School assessments, to determine if the student is maintaining or demonstrates growth in language skills.  Students will be placed back into the ESL Program if evidence does not support maintenance or growth of language skills.

Assessment of English Language Learners (ELLs)

In accordance with Pennsylvania academic standards and Charter School academic standards, the Charter School will monitor the progress of English Language Learners (ELLs) and will provide appropriate accommodations within the content areas to ensure achievement of the academic standards and curricular goals.  22 Pa. Code § 403; No Child Left Behind Act, 20 U.S.C.A. § 6842.  The ESL Director will oversee the review, both annual and periodic, of English Language Learners (ELLs).

Pennsylvania’s assessments shall be administered to all English Language Learners (ELL) annually to measure progress and determine each English Language Learner (ELL)’s English language proficiency for each language domain (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening/Understanding).  Each designated ESL teacher will complete the annual grading and evaluation process for English Language Learners (ELLs) (English, Reading and Language Arts).  Other considerations will include English Language Learner (ELL) portfolios and teacher narratives regarding observations of each English Language Learner (ELL).  Students with immigrant status who have lived in the United States for less than one year are exempt form participating in the PSSA and local assessments.

Throughout the course of the year, individual student progress will be evaluated on a continuous basis with each ESL teacher and the classroom teacher.  Each teacher will modify English Language Learners (ELLs)’ learning plans to ensure academic success for each English Language Learner (ELL).

A standardized form will be kept in each English Language Learner (ELL)’s permanent record folder through graduation.  The form shall identify the date, level, and English proficiency score upon entering the ESL Program; report(s) of progress toward ESL Program goals; and academic standardized test scores.  A narrative from the designated ESL teacher, regarding each English Language Learner (ELL)’s progress toward satisfying the ESL Program objectives, will also be part of the data collection and review process.

An English Language Learner (ELL) may not be retained in a grade level based solely based on his/her lack of  English language proficiency.  Before an English Language Learner (ELL) is retained in a grade, the ESL Director must demonstrate that all appropriate modifications were made to instruction and assessment in order to allow the English Language Learner (ELL)’s meaningful access to the grade level content curriculum as well as to promote ESL instruction.

English Language Learners (ELLs) with Disabilities

All English Language Learners (ELLs) shall be eligible for special education services.  All procedures for the screening, evaluation, IEP, and the provision of services and/or instruction for English Language Learners (ELLs) must be in compliance with governing state and federal laws and regulations.

The IEP team for an English Language Learner (ELL) shall include either the ESL Director or an appropriate ESL teacher, or at a minimum, the IEP shall receive input from either the ESL Director or the appropriate ESL teacher when appropriate.  The IEP team for an English Language Learner (ELL) shall consider the need for ESL instruction as it addresses the English Language Learner (ELL)’s needs related to the provision of Free Appropriate Public Education.  In determining an English Language Learner (ELL)’s needs, the IEP team shall consider both special education services and ESL instruction simultaneously.  Special education services do not replace ESL instruction.

English Language Learners (ELLs) receiving special education services must submit to Pennsylvania’s annual assessments.  Each English Language Learner (ELL) may participate in assessments through the use of one or more state-approved accommodations appropriate to his/her disability.  The IEP team may make decisions regarding assessment accommodations for English Language Learners (ELLs) with disabilities, considering the following:

  1. Accommodations must not invalidate the results of the assessment;
  2. Accommodations may be used for the entire assessment or only for part/parts of the assessment;
  3. Determinations of any accommodation must be:
  • Based on a student’s disability;
  • Made by the student’s entire IEP team;
  • Properly documented in the student’s IEP; and
  • Properly coded on the assessment.

Communications with ESL Parents/Guardians

Communications with ESL parents and/or guardians must be in the parents’/guardians’ preferred language and mode of communication.  The Charter School will provide interpretation services (written and/or oral, depending on the preferred mode of communication).  No Child Left Behind Act, 20 U.S.C.A. § 7012.