State versus Federal ESL Requirements in America

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In California, schools are required to administer the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) to newly enrolled students who do not speak English, as well as to currently enrolled English language learners as a means for annual assessment.

In addition, schools are required to determine the primary home language of all students K-12 when they first enroll in school. A student's primary home language only needs to be determined once. However, if the student's parents dispute the initial test findings, other tests can be administered in order to re- determine the home language.

Questions that appear on the CELDT are aligned with the California English-Language Development standards.

The California ELD standards list five performance levels: Beginning, Early Intermediate, Early Advanced, and Advanced.

The California ELD standards address listening and speaking, reading, and writing. Aside from identifying ELL Student's initial placement in ELD, when annually administered, the CELDT is also used to monitor and determine a student's progress in a current ELD program. Moreover, the CELDT is used to annually determine how well a student is acquiring listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.

California schools align with Federal standards by addressing Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Schools do this by providing initial and annual follow-on testing through the CELDT.

Title III requires that states develop AMAOS for all ELD students, California address through the following AMAOS:

AMAO 1. Schools annually monitor an ELD Student progress through CELDT testing.

AMAO 2. Schools insure that schools are making annual progress through CELDT testing.

AMAO 3. Schools insure that ELD students are meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in each ELD subgroup through the following test instruments:

A.) California Standards Test (CST)

B.) California Modified Assessment (CMA)

C.) California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA)

D.) California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE)

Reclassification and exiting occurs in compliance to California Education Code 313(d), which directs that schools use the following criteria:

English proficiency assessment

Assessment in basic skills through the CST for English Language Arts (CSTELA) or through the California Modified Assessment for ELA (CMAELA)

Faculty evaluation and recommendation

Parental input and opinion

Final decision is determined locally

Reclassification and exiting in California schools occurs in compliance to California Education Code 313(d), and it directs that schools use the following criteria:

English proficiency assessment

Assessment in basic skills through the CST for English language Arts (CSTELA) or the California Modification Assessment for ELA (CMA-ELA)

Faculty evaluation and recommendation

Parental input and opinion

Final decision is determined locally

Parental involvement is critical in all school settings. This is especially true for ESL. It is commonly known that when parents are abreast and participate regularly in their child's school, the education process streamlines from the school site to the home, where homework and other activities occur. Moreover, parental involvement validates educational objectives.

Studies also show that an inverse relationship occurs between parental involvement and student achievement (Colomb, 1995). ESL professionals encounter distinct barriers for parental involvement. Aside from a parent's work hour conflicts, language barriers emerge when a student's L1 is not represented at the school site.

Specific rights and definitions concerning parental involvement were redefined by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). In essence, NCLB resurrects the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). NCLB not only sanctions parental involvement but also includes parents in the decision making process.

NCLB requires that schools regularly inform the parents concerning their child's participation and progress in an ESL program. Moreover, this act requires that all communication occur in a uniform and understandable context, and in a language that the parents understand. This practice has been occurring in most California schools for decades, in accordance to ESEA.

Parental involvement is critical in all school settings. This is especially true for ESL. It is commonly known that when parents are abreast and participate regularly in their child's school, the education process stream lines from the school site to the home where homework and other activities occur. Moreover, parental involvement validates educational objectives.

Studies also show that an inverse relationship occurs between parental involvement and student achievement (Colomb, 1995). ESL professionals encounter distinct barriers for parental involvement. Aside from a parent's work hour conflict, language barriers emerge when a student's L1 is not represented at the school site.

Specific rights and definitions concerning parental involvement were redefined by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). In essence NCLB resurrects the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). NCLB not only sanctions parental involvement but also includes parents in the decision making process.

NCLB requires that schools regularly inform the parents concerning their child's participation and progress in an ESL program. Moreover, this act requires that all communication occur in a uniform and understandable context, as well as in a language that the parents understand. This practice, in accordance to ESEA, has been occurring in most California schools for decades.

California ESL state requirements are in full compliance with national standards. For the most part, many of the national standards, as can be seen in NCLB were modeled after those that appear in previously enacted California Standards.

National Standards require that schools assess each student's proficiency in English through tests that measure reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. California schools do this through the CELDT.

Federal standards also require that testing must occur at the commencement of each school year. Furthermore, the same testing must be repeated annually.

In addition, NCLB requires that schools also develop an individualized plan for each ESL student. Each individualize plan must include a timeline that contains target milestones demonstrating how ELLs are making measureable annual progress (NCEIA, 2003).

National Standards also require that schools report the percentage of ELLs who have successfully exited from an ESL program in accordance with their individualized plan. Schools too are required to follow-up with each student's matriculation into a mainstream English curriculum after two years. This becomes especially difficult to fulfill when ELLs exist an ESL program after the 11th grade year of studies because upon high school graduation, a school's means for assessment ends. Moreover, community colleges, where many former ELLs proceed, lack the communications architecture to report back each student's English level proficiency. Furthermore, California community colleges are not bound by NCLB.

State Requirements

Procedures an ELL teacher needs to follow

Instruments used for placement, reclassification, and exit from ELL programs

Identification

CELDT must be administered to all nearly enrolled LEP and non-English speaking students.

Follow-up annual testing through CELDT required to measure students' progress in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

Annual CELDT scores determine each student's placement in ESL.

Two tools of measurement determine a student's exiting from ESL:

CSTELA

CMAELA

Students must be proficient in their grade level in the content areas when existing ESL.

Identification:

Within the first 30 days of enrollment, a students' L1 will be determined. If identified as LEP of non English speaking, student will be recommended for ESL.

School staff (teachers and administrators) will first identify ELLs.

ESL/ELD Program

1.) ESL / ELD Program

Instruction and Curriculum

Many strategies are employed in California schools. Depending on the ELD student body, a school will implement a specific strategy. For the most part, however, most schools in California follow an 80 / 20 sheltered English approach.

In the primary grades 1-3, students spend most of their school day in a sheltered English environment. The content areas are taught in their L1 which is usually Spanish. Students eventually transition into less linguistically demanding classes as Art and P.E.

Exiting and Reclassification

Aside from annual testing through CELDT, teachers and other faculty will observe each ELL'S progress throughout the school year. Coordination between ESL teachers and other content area teachers occurs in order to accurately measure a students' progress in both English and the content areas.

After exiting an ESL program a students' progress in mainstream English classes will be monitored for two years. Evaluation of progress occurs twice a year in order to insure that a former ELL is making progress in a mainstream environment.

Identification

Students L1 and English language proficiency will be determined during the first 30 days.

Placement

The CELDT will be given in order to determine each student's level of English language proficiency. Those identified as LEP or non-English speaking will be recommended for ESL instruction.

ELD sub grouping will be determined through the following test instruments:

California Standards Test ( CST )

California Modified Assessment ( CMA )

California Alternate Performance Assessment ( CAPA )

California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE )

Exiting and Reclassification

ELL students will receive annual assessment through the CELDT.

Instruments for determining existing from ESL include:

CST for English Language Arts (CSTELA )

California Modified Assessment for ELA ( CMAELA )

Parental Involvement

Parents must first be informed when a school initially places their child in an ESL program. Moreover, the school should communicate with the parents in a language or through a means by which the parents understand.

In California, within 30 days after classes commence, while informing the parents of the schools intent for ESL placement of their child, the schools must also include: 1) Reasons for ESL placement 2) Childs current English language proficiency 3) Proposed curriculum 4) Options 5) Exist requirements for the ESL program.

When parents refuse ESL placement, schools are nonetheless required to insure that the child's language needs are met. When this occurs, schools are often forced to construct an individual plan for the student. Overall, ESL placement includes the school staff, the student and the family.

In California, most ELLs come from Spanish speaking homes. For this, many schools have an ample number of Spanish speaking faculty and staff on-hand to assist with family outreach. However, there are, nonetheless, many schools with an ELL student body representing various L1s. In these cases, schools must have translators on hand to assist teachers and faculty while interacting with parents.

Often, parents from exotic L1s may find a school setting intimidating. When this occurs, schools might utilize local ethnic community centers as a means for first reaching out to the parents.

While teaching at Calexico High School, I found that many of my students came from homes where the parents were employed in the harvesting sector of agriculture. These parents were often up by 2 AM to begin their daily pilgrimage to nearby fields. Indeed, their work day was long and hard. Often, they were not home until 4:30 or 5 PM each day. Once at home, they were bone tired and in bed by 8PM in order to resume work the next morning. Being able to participate in after-school activities was not possible. In these cases, I would make home visits. I would usually pop-in for about a half hour and discuss my instruction and how well the student was progressing. Nine times out of ten, I would walk away with a full stomach after having shared a carne asada (at the parents' insistence) with the family.

Unemployment in the Imperial Valley where Calexico is located is high (over 30%). Agriculture is king, so most job opportunities are restricted to the field. Jobs with the school district were highly valued and highly sought after. Nonetheless, the bilingual job pool is well saturated. What I did was unique. I would encourage parents to participate as "unofficial parent assistants" in the class. Aside from keeping their kids in-check, these mothers would rove the class and provide one-on-one assistance with the students in my class. Most importantly, they would get would some "face time" in with other classified paraprofessionals who were always the first to know when a part-time position opened up. I'm proud to say that at least eight of my parents were able to lock in to a job with the district (usually part time at first, but full time later). Some of the jobs were in the cafeteria or with yard duty, and cross walking. But what the heck, for the mothers it was a job in a town where jobs where hard to be found. Once with the district, the mothers were later exposed to not only job benefits but also later opportunities. To make things short, after about four years, I had students coming up to me asking how their moms could get involved with the school process. Consequently, I must have stacked up a half dozen after-school school/parent committees!!

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