English Language Learner Programs
Elizabeth Webb, Director
Description of Program
New Middle and High School Students
The parents of Middle and High school students new to US schools should call the International Newcomer Center for an appointment 678-985-5200. At the INC, International Student Advisors (ISAs) will interview the student and family about their previous school and assess the student for English language proficiency and math skills. If students have foreign transcripts, they should bring those as well.
Language assistance services are available for those students whose first language is not English and whose lack of proficiency in English limits their successful participation in the regular classroom. All schools have English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers. English language learners in need of support may receive either daily direct instruction from an ESOL teacher or instructional interventions in the regular classroom as planned by the regular classroom teacher with consultation from the ESOL teacher.
ESOL instruction addresses listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills needed for academic achievement in language arts, math, science, social studies and throughout the academic environment. In addition, students are introduced to American cultural concepts needed for school success. At the same time, students are always encouraged to value their first language and culture.
ESOL teachers collaborate closely with other teachers so that instruction for English language learners is comprehensible to the extent possible throughout the school day. ESOL teachers bring the content of the curriculum into their language teaching and regular classroom teachers integrate vocabulary instruction into their classrooms. Professional learning is available to both ESOL teachers and regular classroom teachers.
Teachers and other school staff have access to several electronic databases to support their work. The online intranet Language Bank contains over 1,700 translated documents that can be used to communicate important school information to parents who do not yet speak English. Schools use this as a tool to engage parents in their children’s academic achievement. This database is continually refreshed with revised and new documents, including Welcome Books and Student-Parent Handbooks. The online intranet ELL Handbook offers guidance to schools on best practices in providing language assistance services. Both of these resources have valuable information for working with international students and their parents. Parent information material in Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, and Bosnian can be found by clicking on the language on the system home page.
On entry into the school system, each student who has a primary or home language other than English is screened with the WIDA-Assessing Communication and Comprehension of English State to State (ACCESS) Placement Test (Grades 1-12) or the Measure of Developing English Language (MODEL) for Kindergarten, which assess English listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students scoring below Level 5 are eligible to be served in language assistance services. Students are tested annually with the WIDA-Assessing Comprehension and Content in English State to State (ACCESS) for English Language Learners. The test measures how well students are able to handle academic language tasks (listening, speaking, reading and writing) across the content areas of language arts, math, science and social studies. Scores are used to measure student progress throughout the year as well as to determine when English language learners no longer need language assistance. Once that point is reached, students are monitored for a two-year period to assure that their academic and language progress continues.