1. How do students enter the program?
When students register, they are asked if they speak another language other than English and if another language is used in the home. If the answer is 'yes' to either or both of these questions, then we are required by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to screen them for the ESL program.
Students are screened in Missouri using the W-APT (WIDA ACCESS Placement Test). If a student is in grades 1-12 and receives a qualifying score on the W-APT, he or she is in the ESL program. If they are in kindergarten, then they are automatically in ESL. However, the student's score on the W-APT will determine whether or not they will receive ESL services. The reason for this is kindergarteners often do not know how to read and write when they start the school year, which is when we do most of our screening. Due to this, we can only test them on listening and speaking. The state also requires that students are tested at beginning of the second semester with the ACCESS test to see how well they score in reading and writing.
2. My child speaks English. Why is he/she in ESL?
Speaking conversational English is very important, but it is not the only skill students need to possess in order to be successful in English. They also need to be able to use academic English in all main content areas: English language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. They also need to demonstrate this proficiency in the four modalities: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
3. What is the difference between ELL, immigrant, and migrant?
ELL stands for English Language Learners. English Language Learners are students who have qualified for the ESL program by the process described in FAQ 1. Immigrants are students who have moved to the United States and have lived here for less than three years. They also cannot be US citizens at birth. Migrant students are students whose parents have moved based on temporal or seasonal work. They are considered migrant for three years from the date of the qualifying move. Students can be all, one, or none of these designations.
4. What do students in ESL do?
The content and makeup of an ESL classroom varies greatly based on several factors such as grade, proficiency level, content, students needs, number of students, etc. With that said, all students are working on areas that will help them succeed in academic English in one or more of the four modalities: listening, reading, speaking, and writing.
5. Why does my student have to take extra tests (i.e. ACCESS)?
Missouri law requires all ESL students to be tested every year using the state approved test (ACCESS). The state holds the school accountable for whether the ESL students are making adequate progress in learning English.
6. How do students exit ESL?
Students who receive an overall score of 6.0 on the ACCESS will be automatically exited from ESL. In grades 4-12, students may exit on an overall score of 4.8-5.9 if they have met other requirements set forth in our Lau Plan. Students who exit the program are then placed on monitor status. These requirements have been set by the state of Missouri.
7. Why are former ESL students monitored?
Schools are required by law to monitor former ESL students for two years after they exit the program. The forms of monitoring may vary from school to school and teacher to teacher, but they need to make sure that the exited students are academically successful in their classes. If they are not, the ESL teachers need to determine whether or not it is due to a language need and how to proceed if it is.