Board hears from ESL facultyWORTHINGTON — English as a Second Language teachers in District 518 want more staff and district-wide staff development, they told the school board during a presentation at its Tuesday meeting.
WORTHINGTON — English as a Second Language teachers in District 518 want more staff and district-wide staff development, they told the school board during a presentation at its Tuesday meeting.
The K-5 ESL teachers detailed the challenges they face — limited instruction time, low literacy, inability of parents to give homework help and poverty — and outlined a proposal for improvement.
“Long-term district data shows that as the needs of limited English proficiency students continue to increase, test scores do not,” said teacher Chris Brouwer. She explained the difference between Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills, the “social” skills acquired during the first five years of second language learning; and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency, which includes language used on tests or specialized subject vocabulary.
As a result of the gap between the two levels of language learning, students may appear proficient but still be unable to understand curriculum.
“They might be able to tell you what they had for lunch, or where mommy works, but can they read at grade level? … Can they participate in a science experiment at grade level?” she explained.
Currently, ESL kindergarten students receive a full day of instruction, students in the Newcomers program receive a half day and first- through fifth-graders receive 30 minutes a day. That’s not enough, the teachers say.
“We see the growth in the number of self-contained ESL classes from 2003,” Brouwer said. “We have absorbed students without increasing staff. Thirty minutes is not enough time to bridge the gap.”
Worthington students with limited proficiency in English continue to score lower than the state average on standardized tests of math and reading.
Board members questioned how the teachers’ methods squared with those of similar districts, and questioned the efficacy of the model used in St. Paul schools that the teachers cited.
“I’d like also to track backwards: the kids who are failing the test, were those the kids that were in ESL when they were in elementary school?” said member Mark Shepherd.
The teachers proposed the addition of 2.3 full-time equivalent teaching positions at Prairie Elementary and staff development for all teachers in the district.
“Even if we operate the way we are now, we’re just understaffed,” Brouwer added.
Citing lack of student participation, the board also voted not to change the high school and middle school instruction schedule to accommodate release time for religious activities. Students wishing to attend church-related events during school hours may still do so, and their absence will be excused. Linda Lund, on behalf of Grace Community Church, and a small group of others, attended to request the release time remain in place.
In other business, the board on Monday:
- Approved employment of Josh Langseth as Class I Paraprofessional at Prairie Elementary, Judy Slininger as dishwasher at the middle school, Brad Grimmius as head football coach at the high school, Nancy Landeros as bilingual paraprofessional at the high school and Susianna Win as 21st CCLC Program bilingual paraprofessional.
- Approved .083 full-time equivalent overloads for Stacy Sauerbrei and Ruth Putnam.
- Approved the committee flow chart for implementation for the 2010-2011 school year.
- Approved capital outlay requests and seeking of bids for projects.
- Approved a Memorandum of Agreement between Minnesota West Community and Technical College and District 518 for nursing clinical experiences.