What is an English Language Learner [ELL]?
An ELL, or English Language Learner, is a student who
- Was/was not born in the US, whose native language is other than English, and who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant. or
- Is migratory with a native language other than English and comes from an environment where English is not the dominant language.
What are the goals of the ESL program?
To facilitate the acquisition of English language skills and provide an instructional program appropriate to the students' various developmental and instructional levels.
What is the ESL program in Central Bucks like?
Students entering our school system come from varied backgrounds, circumstances, and educational experiences. Some are refugees or immigrants, while others are native-born Americans whose native and/or dominant language is a language other than English. Some have participated in extensive formal education in their native language while others have had their education delayed or interrupted. As a consequence, students coming to our schools possess a wide range of language competencies both in their native language and English. English as a Second Language (ESL) instructional services will be provided at designated ESL Cluster Schools within the school district. ESL teachers are responsible for scheduling, instructing, and testing. Instructional sessions are generally pullout at the elementary level, with scheduled classes at the secondary level. This includes the cultural and social aspects of the English language. ESL instruction may replace subjects involving Language Arts instruction including reading, writing, listening and speaking, to the extent appropriate for the individual student. Accommodations should be made in the classroom during content instruction. ESL instruction offers support in content areas by reinforcing vocabulary and/or concept development. After students have met exit criteria, they will return to their home schools and will be monitored for two years.
How do students enter the program?
Upon registration, any student who indicates they speak a language other than English at home is referred for an ESL evaluation. The student is assessed using the WIDA Access Placement Test (W-APT) to determine his/her level of English proficiency and instructional needs. The ESL Coordinator will determine if the student qualifies for the ESL program based on the W-APT scores and other criteria (i.e. school records, exams, previous schooling experience, etc.).
Are translation services available?
Yes, the school district subscribes to an interpreter service and can use translators to communicate with family members in more than 200 languages.
Do English Language Learners have to take PSSAs and Keystone Exams?
Yes, unless the student has been in the United States for less than one year. A full explanation of state testing policies and accommodations can be found here.
How do students exit the program?
Students in the ESL program are assessed each year using the WIDA Access Test. ESL teachers determine whether the student has met state-mandated exit criteria each year. Exit criteria can be found here.
What happens after students exit the program?
When a student is exited from the ESL program, he/she returns to the homeschool. During the two years after exit, the student's progress is monitored through collaboration between the ESL Coordinator and homeschool teachers.
Where can I find more information on ESL in Pennsylvania?