English as a Second Language (ESL) in Public Schools

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Archived Q&A and Reviews


Poor follow-up for kids whose English is not proficient

April 2016

At our school in WCCUSD, we have about 15 children who ranked poorly in the English proficiency test. After the test, no other action was taken by the school. Does anyone have information on how to tackle this - is the school required to provide/facilitate tutoring / Dual language instruction? And what works for these children? Any approaches / materials that the PTA could offer independent of the school? Often the families don't speak English very well and therefore can't teach the kids themselves. Thanks!! Julia

It is not unusual for ESL students to completely under-perform. WCCUSD is not alone; most of CA did terribly. There are many, many factors from student and parent unfamiliarity and at home advocacy issues to a brand-new, very different form of testing possibly taken in a brand-new format....(on computers or tablets). It is also NOT excusable, and your school is required by law to have a plan to improve learning and test scores. Your school's site council and the ILT (Instructional Leadership Team) and the ELAC (English Language Advisory Council) at the school are responsible for constructing, implementing, monitoring and tweaking the plan. Through the LCFF (Locally Controlled Funding Formula), they receive LCAP money (Locally Controlled Accountability Plan) that needs to be spent on improving outcomes for this group. The amount they receive is based upon how many English Language Learners are enrolled (as well as other groups).

To start, I'd make an appointment with the principal to discuss your concerns and ask to see the plan constructed by the groups listed above and how they are monitoring and tweaking to meet student needs. Then, I'd get on one of the above committees. Change comes from within.

As far as the PTA, yes, they can help. They can supply materials and even tutoring. This is based on their budget and desire to help. Membership would have to put it to a vote, but they certainly can help in many ways. They should check in with the above committees to see how they might support the goals with additional funds or materials. -Hope this helps.

BUSD new students who speak little English

March 2009

Does anyone has the experience or knows how do the Berkeley elementry public schools handling new students (5th and 2nd grade) that speak very little English? Do they have a special class for ESL? Do they offer any help with it? Thanks! anon

As a former BUSD teacher and parent of BUSD students...Most newer teachers are required to be CLAD certified, which means they have taken classes in how to accommodate students for whom English is a second language. This involves things such as using more visual aids and defining of vocabulary. In high school there are some separate ELL and SDAIE classes (I taught such classes for science). You didn't mention what their primary language is. I looked at placing my son in the Spanish immersion program at Thousand Oaks Elementary. We were told that the first part of the kindergarten day is conducted entirely in Spanish with the afternoon (Science and History oriented activities) in English. This was awhile back so I would contact them to see if that is still the case. Otherwise, there are not supposed to be ''pull out'' classes for non-English speakers at the elementary level. However, there are volunteer tutors that might be able to help one on one for reading, etc.

For themost accurate information, contact the Enrollment and Admissions Office at the Berkeley unified School District at: http://www.berkeley.net/enrollment/ and at Phone: (510) 644-6504 E-Mail: Admissions [at] berkeley.k12.ca.us Hours: 8:00 a.m. - noon and 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Anonymous