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English Language Development Program Overview

The Bethlehem Area School District (BASD) shall provide an appropriate instructional program for identified students whose primary language is not English. The English Language Development Program will increase the English language proficiency of eligible students so that they can attain the academic standards adopted by the Board and achieve academic success. The BASD complies with all Pennsylvania mandates and the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) requirements for English Learners.

English Language Development Program Mission

In a nurturing and challenging environment where diversity is celebrated, our students will experience academic success while acquiring English in order to become capable and productive members of society.

English Language Development Program Goals

The goals of the English Language Development Program are:

  • To provide an academic setting that accelerates the acquisition of English
  • To integrate English Learners into mainstream classes and achieve success
  • To increase language proficiency and ensure the attainment of academic standards
  • To coordinate the child’s educational program to ensure continuity and reduce fragmentation
  • To enhance concept clarification with native language support
  • To facilitate communication between the home and school

Parents/guardians of all BASD students registering in the school district are given a Home Language Survey (HLS) to complete for the identification of English Learners (ELs). All the original surveys are sent to English Learner Services where formal language assessments are administered. As required by law, if a language other than English is indicated, then the student is formally assessed by one of the district’s language evaluators. Students identified as non-English or limited English proficient are assigned to their schools and receive ESOL services within a seventy-two hour period.

Initial Evaluation

The personnel at English Learner Services (ELS), located at Northeast Middle School, register and test all entering students whose home language is other than English (as per the Home Language Survey). Students are given the WIDA: Screener as mandated by the state to determine language proficiency; additional reading and writing assessments may also be required. Secondary school students may also take a mathematics test. Results of testing are sent to schools for review by administrators and teachers. For students who speak Spanish (more than 85% of our ELs), testing is conducted both in English and in Spanish. Two part-time evaluators, bilingual in English and Spanish, test more than 700 students each year, including newcomers, students for whom schools request diagnostic testing, and testing of all incoming kindergarten students who speak a language other than English.

If students are found to be eligible for ESOL, the following English proficiency levels that are aligned to the WIDA proficiency levels are assigned to determine English instruction for ELs.

Level 1 – Entering: Student demonstrates very limited or no proficiency in English. This student may understand and use simple, short utterances. This student is not able to converse in English in simple social situations. This student may lack formal education and/or may have experienced interrupted schooling; therefore, the student may not have acquired the skills necessary for reading and writing in his/her native language or English.

Level 2 – Emerging: Student demonstrates limited proficiency in English. This student may use patterned expressions when he/she speaks. This student can participate in simple conversations and respond to routine classroom procedures. This student has acquired some skills necessary for reading and writing, but has not yet acquired a level of English sufficient to read and write fluently.

Level 3 – Developing: Student demonstrates some proficiency in English. This student may understand and use basic sentence patterns when he/she speaks. This student can converse in social situations with some repetition and hesitation and may begin to demonstrate the ability to participate in class discussions of limited content area topics. This student may read and write, but is confused by complex structures and technical language. This student cannot meet passing requirements independently in the mainstream classroom.

Level 4 – Expanding: Student demonstrates English proficiency in social situations and some proficiency in classroom situations. This student can understand and use complex sentence structure in conversation, but demonstrates some difficulty with content area topics. This student may read and write, but needs assistance with content area class work and therefore, does not yet meet passing requirements independently in the mainstream classroom.

Documenting English Language Development

Student progress is continually monitored through reports from the ESOL specialists twice a year, and school documentation is reviewed as students move through the program from Entering to Emerging, Developing, Expanding, and reclassification as former ELs. To capture the progress of the acquisition of English, “Stage Forms” for listening, speaking, reading, and writing will be completed by the ESOL specialists in the Fall and the Spring. The WIDA: Can Do Descriptors and classroom formative assessments will be utilized to determine proficiency levels. A member of the team will be designated to inform parents of any change of level.

Special Education and English Language Development

Students identified as having special educational needs and who are English Learners (SpELs) will have ESOL instruction provided to them as per their Individual Educational Plans (IEPs). The IEP team members, including an ESOL specialist and parents/guardians, will examine test results, review students’ needs, and set appropriate goals to determine the amount of ESOL instruction needed. Collaboration between English Learner Services and Special Education departments is paramount in providing quality instruction at the student’s appropriate English and academic levels.

Reclassifying and Monitoring English Learners

Once ELs attain English proficiency as defined in the state reclassification procedure, they may be reclassified as former ELs. ESOL specialists, in conjunction with content teachers and administrators, review the student data, determine if ESOL instruction is necessary for academic success, and submit the appropriate documentation to ELS to reclassify the EL. The coordinator of ELS will review all documentation to confirm reclassification. A member of the team will be designated to inform parents of the change.

The academic progress of former ELs must be actively monitored by district personnel for a period of two (2) years after reclassification. Former ELs must be reported to the state as such for a period of four years after reclassification.

Continued student improvement is an important goal for our English Language Development Program. Student progress is continually monitored through twice a year reports from the ESOL teachers, and school documentation is reviewed as students move through the program from Entering to Emerging, Developing, Expanding, and to reclassification. Student scores on the WIDA and student grades are reviewed to ensure continued progress. Future Ready PA Index, available on the PDE website, will also provide confirmation of ELs’ yearly academic growth.