New Department Targets Roosevelts English Language Learners
With 17 languages spoken and an estimated 38 percent of students requiring English training beyond what is typically taught in the classroom, the Roosevelt School District is placing substantial resources toward helping teachers get their endorsements in English as a Second Language and bilingual education.
Since 2001, the district has been under a mandate from the Office of Civil Rights, requiring English language learners to receive 45 minutes of language development each day. However, limited resources made it difficult to monitor additional instruction in the classrooms.
“We’d like to think it was being done at every site with fidelity, but we know there were some shortcomings because the teachers providing those services need to be ESL and bilingual endorsed,” said Sharon Trischan, the district’s director of language acquisition.
At the beginning of the 2007-08 school year, the Language Acquisition Department was established to help ensure English language learners meet OCR requirements and the Arizona Measure of Standards for academics. One of the department’s first tasks was offering coursework for teachers through Northern Arizona University.
“Teachers can get these classes elsewhere, but we made a concerted effort to bring NAU here to help teachers get that endorsement and allow them to provide that 45 minutes,” Trischan added.
In addition to the 45 minutes required by OCR, the state of Arizona recently established a new language-learning requirement of four hours a day for students not proficient in English. The boost in required time has led Trischan to seek out materials and programs for educating additional teachers who are not ESL certified or bilingual.
Due to limited funding or a model for use in the schools, districts were given the 2007-08 school year to develop procedures for implementing the new requirement. The Roosevelt School District has the advantage of being one of the first districts in the state to receive training from the Arizona Department of Education specifically for implementing the four-hour standard.
“It’s great to have that support from the Department of Education,” Trischan remarked. “Roosevelt has one of the top 20 highest English language populations in the state. So it’s nice to know they’re supporting us.”
During the four hours in the classroom, an emphasis will be put on listening, speaking, reading and writing. Although support can be given to other areas of study, the primary focus will be devoted to English language development.
A sample of what those four hours could look like in a classroom setting will be introduced to district personnel during the Arizona Department of Education training, which begins this month.
Full implementation will take effect the first day of the 2008-09 school year.