English Learners (ELs)
Our English Learners (ELs), like all our students across the district, have had a disruption of their daily lives, have worries about their own families, and have experienced high-stress situations. The district recognizes that students will need additional supports to rebalance and refocus on the task of learning and being productive in the school community. The goal remains for ELs to achieve the same rigorous grade-level academic standards that are expected of all students, within a reasonable period of time.
Schools will continue to be guided by the following principles in delivering EL services:
- Assets-Oriented and Needs-Responsive Schools
- Meaningful Access to Quality Instruction
- Meaningful Communication with EL Families
These principles will continue to guide the district in implementing instructional programs for ELs during the transition to reopening schools. This means that the schools will ensure that they embrace ELs as the assets they are while also providing them with the support they need to succeed. The same is true for EL students with disabilities. For dually identified students, a knowledgeable educator will be involved in planning distance learning needs for students with an individualized education program (IEP/EP).
District schools will continue to provide designated and integrated English Language Development (ELD) and have the flexibility to determine how services will be provided to ELs. Under state and federal law, there is no required amount of time that must be allocated to EL services.
In addition to the considerations noted for all students, the following considerations and processes will be in place for students who receive EL services across all settings. EL students will continue to receive services including:
- Designated time for ELD instruction within the schedule with opportunities for extended instructional time (for recently arrived ELs and ELs identified for interventions)
- Embedded grade-level content supports within face-to-face and virtual lessons to meet the needs of ELs at their level of English language proficiency (for recently arrived ELs and ELs identified for interventions)
- Formative ELD assessments in reading, writing, listening and speaking to monitor progress in English language proficiency in ELD classes
- Family outreach and education to support families’ understanding of the PCS ReOpening Plan in the native language, as feasible
- Counseling, social work, and psychology services for social emotional supports and advising in the native language, as feasible
Communication with Families
In addition to collaborating with classroom teachers and school, district and county educators, engaging the parents of ELs remains important during school reopening. Schools have an obligation to ensure meaningful communication with parents of ELs in a language they can understand and to adequately notify parents of the same information about any program, service or activity that is shared with parents of students who are not classified as ELs. Schools should translate all mailings and emails to parents to provide access to the information in a language they understand. For parents who need support in reading information, schools may use recorded telephone calls that go to families or LionBridge phone interpretation services. Working with parents and offering them the opportunity to be involved in their children’s education is key to the students’ success at all times, especially during distance learning and the transition to reopening.
ESOL Documentation and Compliance
Upon return to school, all students identified through the Home Language Survey form as potential ELs will be administered an English Language Proficiency assessment. This assessment can be administered remotely for students participating in the MyPCS Online and Pinellas Virtual School options.
All students previously identified as ELs will continue to receive services in accordance with federal and state requirements and based on the 2020 ACCESS for ELs English language proficiency levels.
Additionally, schools will closely monitor ELs who were reclassified as fluent English proficient to evaluate whether students need additional services. An EL’s English proficiency level may have decreased because the student has experienced limited instruction for an extended time during school closures. Therefore, close monitoring is key to ensure that ELs have the opportunity to recover any academic losses incurred during school closures. Collaboration is key to supporting ELs during distance learning and throughout the transition to reopening schools.
For students who are instructed virtually– the expectation will be that students receive real-time EL services, as if they were served in a traditional, face-to-face setting, based on their level of English language proficiency.
EL Committee Meetings
For cases in which a yearly EL Committee meeting was not held in spring 2020 due to COVID-19, those meetings will be scheduled promptly upon return to school. Any meeting that has gone beyond the meeting due date, will be prioritized.
If a school observes regression in the reading, writing, listening or speaking skills of an EL student, school staff will reach out to the family to discuss convening an EL Committee meeting.
To the greatest extent possible, all EL Committee meetings will be held virtually to limit exposure for students, families and employees. If there is a specific request for an in-person meeting, all individuals participating in the meeting must adhere to the PCS health and wellness protocols outlined within the ReOpening Plan, including but not limited to: self-screening for wellness to be in a district building, social distancing and personal protective equipment.
If parents/guardians have concerns about the status of EL services, they should contact their ESOL teacher or school during the opening weeks of school.