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Improved ELL Plan presented to school board

By Staff | Aug 1, 2012

An improved English Language Learner Plan was presented to the Lee County School Board Tuesday afternoon, which will further the success rate for students.

The plan will be voted on at the Aug. 7 board meeting.

Dr. Constance Jones, chief academic officer for the district, said the plan makes a tremendous difference in really helping the district increase its focus on students and close the achievement gap. She said updating the ELL plan is an annual event that the district has to go through, so it can be submitted to the state.

She said the plan includes the standards for student entry to become eligible for the program, exit criteria from the program, as well as post monitoring to ensure that the student is still experiencing success.

Last year, Jones said they had 831 students enrolled in the school district that met the criteria of needing ELL services. There were 130 new students from Mexico, 106 from Cuba and 111 students from Puerto Rico, as well as other countries.

“Of those students, 634 of them ended up eligible for ESOL (English Learners of Other Language) services,” she said. “This is just a snap shot of new students just from this past year.”

Evelyn Rivera, curriculum, quality and staff development for foreign language, explained how the students are identified. She said the process begins with the parents enrolling their child into the district, which contains three questions pertained to language.

“Any yes to any of those questions is an indication the student has to be evaluated,” Rivera said.

As soon as the school district has a yes, the identification process continues through the LAB test, which measures listening, speaking, reading and writing. A 32 percent score or lower, Rivera said, is an indication that the child needs service, which is done within the first 20 days of the first attendance of school.

“The results tells us if eligible or not eligible for ESOL services,” she said.

Once that is identified, Rivera said they then find out the appropriate grade level for the student.

If a student leaves and comes back to the district during the same school year, they do not need to be tested again.

Within three years of being in the ESOL program the student needs to demonstrate English proficiency to exit the program.

“We keep track of students for the next two years,” she said.

The district also makes sure the parents feel welcome, so they are a part of their children’s educational career. Phone calls are made to make sure they can attend meetings, so they are informed on how the school works and what helps their students become successful.

“It is an important process in the educational endeavor,” Rivera said.