WORTHINGTON — Insight into Independent School District 518’s English Language Learners programming is encouraging, as the district’s EL students have outperformed the average of other EL students across Minnesota for the second consecutive year.
More of District 518’s EL students, who comprise more than 25% of the district's student body, met or exceeded their target — and made progress toward their target — than EL students across Minnesota, data from the Minnesota Report Card reveals.
“We are doing some great things here,” said District 518 EL Coordinator Gerald Oehler about the district’s EL program, which currently has 1,284 students.
Slightly more than 49% of EL students in Worthington reached or surpassed their individual target last spring on the ACCESS 2.0 test, which measures students' English language proficiency by testing their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Approximately 40% of EL students across the state met or exceeded their targets.
On average, District 518’s EL students made it 68% of the way to their individual targets. That compares to EL students across the state, who on average progressed to 61% of their goal.
Prairie Elementary’s EL students are picking up the language quicker than any other District 518 building, with 57% of students reaching or surpassing their target. As a whole, Prairie Elementary EL students progressed to 78% of their goal.
Those marks dive a bit at the middle school (35% reach/exceed targets), before elevating again at the high school (52%).
Oehler credits both students and staff with achieving scores that surpass the statewide average.
“We have students who are ready to learn, but they need to be guided,” he said. “It’s because of the great staff we have.”
While approximately 30 District 518 staff members are strictly focused on EL programming, Oehler said every teacher that comes into contact with an EL student also plays an impact role in helping them reach their goals.
Positive or not, the EL administration and team examine the data trends provided by the annual testing and evaluate what’s working well and where potential gaps exist in an effort for corrective action.
Oehler said above all else, the district’s goal is to help each individual EL student make progress, a task that may look different for each student.
The number of students that qualify for EL services has increased over the past three years.
During school year 2017-2018, 932 students qualified for EL services and 1,213 students were services in school year 2018-2019.
The program has grown with them, and a new EL position split between the Learning Center and WHS was approved this year by the school board.
The support of the administration and school board to provide the necessary resources to assist in the success of the program is also appreciated, Oehler said.