Frequently Asked Questions from Teachers
How is a student eligible for the English learner program?
All parents must complete a home language survey during the registration process. The home language survey is required and regulated by the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. If a parent notes that a language other than English is spoken in the household or by a caregiver, the student must be assessed for English language proficiency. Students who score below a given cut-score, determined by the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, are then eligible for and entitled to EL programming.
What are the programming options for ELs?
There are currently three program options for English learners in Massachusetts. SEI is the only program option that is offered at HPS at this time.
- Sheltered English Immersion (SEI): SEI programming for ELs includes both Sheltered Content Instruction (SCI) and English Language Development (ELD). Read more about the roles of the SCI and ELD teachers.
- Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE): TBE programming for ELs includes both core content instruction in the home language, which is phased out over time in favor of English, and English Language Development (ELD). TBE programs can be initiated at any grade level.
- Two-Way Immersion (TWE): TWE programming for ELs includes both core content instruction in a target language as well as English to promote bilingualism and English Language Development (ELD). TWI programs must begin in PreK/K and may continue through the secondary level.
How can I obtain more information about my EL student?
Every EL student has an Individualized Learning Plan (ILP). This plan includes information about the student’s educational and linguistic background; ELE program information; assessment exemptions and accommodations; WIDA scores; accessibility tools for the classroom; and “can do” descriptors aligned to the listening, speaking, reading, writing, and oral language levels of the English learner student. The ILP can be found attached to the EL student’s profile in PowerSchool.
Where can I find more information about WIDA language levels?
Linked, please find the “can do” descriptors for EL students scoring at WIDA levels 1-6, arranged by grade level cluster.
Early Years Can Do Descriptors
Kindergarten Can Do Descriptors
Grade 1 Can Do Descriptors
Grades 2-3 Can Do Descriptors
Grades 4-5 Can Do Descriptors
Grades 6-8 Can Do Descriptors
Grades 9-12 Can Do Descriptors
Visit the WIDA Download Library for even more resources.
If I have a student in both the English learner and special education programs, does one program trump the other?
Students in both the English learner and special education programs are entitled to instruction and services from both programs. It is a violation of a student’s rights to deny any instruction or services for which the student is entitled through eligibility in the English learner or special education programs.
I have a student who is an “opt out.” What does that mean?
Parents have the right to opt their children out of English learner instruction. A parent’s decision to opt their child out of EL instruction must be voluntary and informed. There are procedures that must be followed in order for a parent to opt out of EL instruction for their child. After parents have been informed of their rights, programming options, and support options should they decide to opt out, the ELE Coordinator must document, in writing, that the parents were given adequate and appropriate information of their programming rights and made a voluntary, informed decision to opt their child out. In such cases, the student is still considered an English learner and must be placed with SEI endorsed content teachers. The student must also take the ACCESS assessment annually until they meet the requirements for exit from the EL program. They will not be provided with pull-out ELD instruction. Parents can opt out and opt back into the program at any time during the time that their child is eligible for the English learner program.
When does a student exit EL programming, and what happens next?
To exit EL programming, students must earn a given cut-score, determined by the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, on the ACCESS assessment, given annually to students in the English learner program. If the cut-score is achieved, a second piece of relevant data is needed to confirm English proficiency levels and qualify a student for exit from the English learner program.
Additional Resources for Teachers
Empowering ELLs: strategies to develop social and academic language for English learners
Essential Actions: 15 research-based practices to increase EL student achievement
Jeff Zwiers: tools to increase academic language and literacy
SIOP: lesson plans for teaching English learners (from the Center for Applied Linguistics)
Teaching Tolerance: classroom resources for teaching diversity, equity, and justice
Understanding Language: resources to help meet the linguistic needs of EL students in the content classroom
WIDA Download Library: WIDA resources available for download