The following article was written by Michelle Wise, Romoland School District interim assistant superintendent of Educational Services.
Romoland School District serves a diverse population of students, of which 22 percent are English learners. English learners who meet English language proficiency and are reclassified as fluent English proficient prior to high school are offered increased opportunities for achievement in high school and beyond.
Their academic and enrichment opportunities are expanded with increased access to a-g courses that meet the requirements for college admittance, whereas students who remain English learners in high school must continue to take English Language Development courses and are thus limited in opportunities to complete a-g courses. Romoland School District is committed to reclassifying English learners as fluent English proficient prior to completion of grade eight. This is achieved through the implementation and monitoring of intentional strategies to increase student language acquisition, achievement, enrichment, and goal-setting success.
While all school districts in California are mandated to have a process for reclassifying English learner students to English language proficient, Romoland School District has been strategic in the multi-faceted system used. It is worth noting Romoland School District’s 2017-18 annual EL Reclassification Rate of 21.7 percent exceeds the state average of 14.6 percent. The English Learner Reclassification System objectives include:
• All ELs receive integrated and designated English Language Development instruction daily.
• All ELs are taught by teachers highly trained in integrated and designated ELD.
• All ELs receive personalized goal setting support from a teacher and/or administrator.
• All ELs and their parents/guardians are well informed about the criteria for reclassifying.
• Parents/guardians of all ELs are offered multiple opportunities to participate in the education of their students.
• College and career readiness and enrichment opportunities are offered to all ELs.
English learners receive integrated and designated English Language Development instruction daily. Teachers post their daily schedules which include ELD, and site administrators regularly monitor ELD lessons through weekly classroom walk-throughs; teachers are provided lesson feedback regularly. Teachers monitor student progress throughout the year with the collection of student performance data and discussion of data and ELD instructional methods at weekly Professional Learning Community meetings.
All English learners are taught by teachers highly trained in integrated and designated ELD. To ensure teachers are sufficiently skilled to offer integrated and designated ELD, a full-time English Learner Program instructional coach is available to provide professional development and coaching to all teachers. The coach engages in whole group, small group, and one-on-one peer coaching of teachers, which includes co-planning and co-teaching ELD lessons. The coach has also created on-demand professional learning modules available to teachers online through Alludo.
All EL students receive one-on-one goal setting support from a teacher and/or administrator. Teachers and site administrators meet with students throughout the school year to complete a personalized goal setting form and monitor student progress. Students are taught the criteria for meeting English proficiency, and they evaluate their own learning and progress through the goal setting conferences.
All EL students and their parents/guardians are taught the criteria for reclassification. In addition to students being informed of the criteria for meeting English proficiency, parents/guardians are informed of the criteria through a variety of parent/guardian meetings and outreach conducted by site EL program leaders, teachers and site administrators. In celebration of student achievement with reclassification, parents/guardians are invited to an annual ceremony honoring EL students who have reclassified to fluent English proficient during the school year.
Students are honored with a certificate of achievement and medal of honor. Further, the parents/guardians of all EL students are offered multiple opportunities to participate in the education of their students. All parents/guardians of elementary English learner students can participate in site opportunities for learning home-based instructional strategies to implement with their children. All parents/guardians of middle school English learner students have the opportunity to participate in the Parent Institute for Quality Education in which parents/guardians take a 10-week course to learn about the requirements for a student to graduate from high school and enter a four-year university.
College and career readiness opportunities are offered to all English learners. All middle school EL students are offered an elective class of their choice, and this is achieved through a seven-period school day. In addition, all eighth grade students are offered a field trip to the University of California, Riverside for a college tour and information session.
Spanish-speaking English learner students also have the opportunity to take the advanced Spanish for native speakers elective course which puts them on the path for Advanced Placement Spanish and earning the State Seal of Biliteracy. Romoland began offering Advanced Placement Spanish in grade 8 during the 2017-18 school year, and 88 percent of the students in the course passed the AP exam.
At the heart of this system is a strategic focus on the achievement of English learners. Offering students personalized goal setting conferences, daily ELD instruction, and information about the criteria for reclassification are no-cost and easy to implement and monitor. Those practices have a significant influence on students’ language acquisition and belief in self to achieve; the practices empower students.
Further, engaging the parent/guardian community is work that schools already do, so expanding the messaging to empower parents/guardians means including information about high school graduation requirement information, college access information, and information about the criteria for students to reclassify as fluent English proficient. Combining these empowerment practices with enrichment opportunities for students is work we are proud of, and it is creating success and opportunity for the students of Romoland School District.
More information on Romoland SD can be found at www.romoland.net.