English as a Second Language (ESL)
ESL classes are designed to assist students in achieving educational proficiency standards in English. Students in PreK-12 who report a language other than English as the primary language on the Home Language Survey are screened for the ESL program. In SBISD the IPT (Idea Proficiency Test) test is used to screen these students. Qualifying students are entitled to instructional support with an ESL certified teacher to assist the student in developing proficiency in the English language. The main goal of the ESL program is to create an inclusive environment for the Limited English Proficient (LEP) students in the classroom and to integrate English listening, speaking, reading and writing. Therefore the ESL student learns functional, social and academic language to communicate in different settings.
When a student indicates that he or she speaks a language other than English on the home language survey, the state requires that an oral test of English be administered. Our district uses the IPT (Idea Proficiency Test) test to determine the English proficiency level. If the test indicates that the student is not fluent in English, the student qualifies for the ESL Program. Within twenty days of the student’s entry, the LPAC (Language Proficiency Assessment Committee) must meet to determine a student’s language category and placement.
Placement of students in ESL
In ESL classes the teacher uses techniques for developmental language learning based on current research in second language acquisition. Cooperative learning, thematic units, and use of technology all provide a wide variety of learning opportunities. This program is an integral part of the total school program and is based on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) as required by the state.
Sheltered classes are “regular” content-specific classes offered to the Limited English Proficient student for state credit at the secondary level. A sheltered content class incorporates second language acquisition strategies and support systems to communicate meaning in the content area. These sheltered classes are taught by teachers certified in those content areas and trained in sheltered techniques. The sheltered classes cover all mandated TEKS and the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS), with priority on modifying the methods and materials for instruction of second language learners.
Assessments for LEP students
In addition to the TAKS tests, all LEP students take the TELPAS online reading test and receive holistic rating in Listening, Speaking and Writing. “No Child Left Behind” legislation requires that the states measure not only LEP students’ academic progress, but also English language acquisition.
TAKS Exemptions for LEP students
LEP students may qualify for a one year exemption from TAKS when they are in their first year in United States schools (any portion of one year counts as a whole year). LEP students in grades 3-10 must meet five general exemption criteria to be exempt- the most important one being a documented “inadequate foundation of learning.”
In middle school, the state allows up to a three year exemption IF the LPAC committee has documentation that the student’s prior schooling was interrupted AND their academic skills are well below grade level in their native language and English. The LPAC must document instructional interventions that occur throughout the year if a student is to be exempted.
High school students may not be exempt from exit exams, but may postpone them for 12 months.
Special Education and ESL
A student may be served by both Special Education and ESL programs. The ARD committee determines what special education services the student receives, and the LPAC committee determines the ESL services. Special Education may not decide for the ESL program and vice versa. Collaboration by the ARD and the LPAC committees is required to best serve the needs of the students.
Exit the ESL Program
To exit the ESL program, a student must pass the TAKS Reading and TAKS writing in a TAKS tested grade or achieve Advanced High in TELPAS writing and achieve Fluent English Speaker (FES) on the OLPT (IPT) test. After a student exits, he or she is monitored for two years to be sure no additional support is needed. Students in TAKS grades are counted in the LEP special population group for two years after they exit the program.
Monitored students do not take TELPAS, as they are no longer considered LEP.
Retention of LEP students
A LEP student should not be retained if language acquisition issues are a major factor in the student’s failure to master English Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for the grade in which they are currently enrolled.
The school should make every effort to allow students to demonstrate knowledge or competency independent of their English language skills. These efforts should include assessments in the primary language, assessments utilizing ESL methodologies, and non-verbal assessment with multiple varied instruments.
The district is required to modify the instruction, pacing, and materials to ensure that limited English proficient students have a full opportunity to master the essential knowledge and skills of the required curriculum. Students participating in the bilingual education program may demonstrate their mastery of the essential knowledge and skills in either their home language or English (19 TAC §89.1210(a).
TELPAS and LEP students
The federal government requires schools to use TELPAS, not TAKS, to report the adequate yearly level of progress of English language acquisition. Federal No Child Left Behind regulations also require that all LEP students (including students with parental denials) are assessed annually in English language proficiency in reading, listening, speaking, and writing until they are no longer considered LEP. Therefore, LEP students who reach the advanced high level on TELPAS but do not meet exit criteria will continue to participate in TELPAS assessments the following year. The simple rule to remember is that LEP students participate in TELPAS online Reading and TELPAS holistic scoring in listening, speaking and writing, regardless of their performance, as long as they are designated as LEP and have not been exited from the bilingual/ESL program.
ESL committee membership:
- One or more professional personnel (It is recommended that this include a campus administrator and a certified ESL teacher)
- A parent of a Limited English Proficiency (LEP)student participating in the program designated by the district (no parent serving on the committee shall be an employee of the school district)
Bilingual committee membership:
- A professional bilingual educator
- An ESL educator or general education educator if student is a parental denial or is in the two year monitoring phase after exit
- A parent of a Limited English Proficient (LEP) student participating in the program designated by the district (No parent serving on the committee shall be an employee of the school district)
- A campus administrator