SAD #4

It is the policy of SAD #4 to provide equitable access for limited English proficient students. According to the Equal Education Opportunities Act (1974), this district must make an effort to do whatever is educationally appropriate to address the English and educational needs of the limited English proficient student so that he/she can compete with his/her same age English background peers. Qualifying students will be identified and placed in programs and services in accordance with statutory guidelines. SAD #4 will strive to provide a linguistically and culturally rich learning and teaching environment. It is the policy of SAD #4 to comply with all federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination against students on the basis of all civil rights categories.

I. Establish a Language Assessment Committee (LAC) that consists of an administrator, classroom teacher, and a parent or guardian, if possible. Appropriate support staff, such as a guidance counselor, will be included when they are involved in the student’s program.

The responsibilities of the Language Assessment Committee include:

a. Identify Limited English Proficient (LEP) students using the ACCESS assessment tool.
b. Develop an appropriate and effective language support program that ensures the LEP student will achieve the Learning Results and grade level expectations.
c. Monitor the student’s progress on an ongoing basis.
d. Notify parent or guardian of all decisions (in a language they comprehend) and their right to appeal their child’s participation in ESL.
e. Determine when the LEP student meets the exit or reclassification standards through ACCESS Assessment.
f. Monitor students for two years after exit from ESL.
g. Make recommendations for programming for next school year.

II. Screening: All newly enrolled students (including transfers) will be initially screened for subsequent assessment through the Home Language Survey during the enrollment process.

If a student has been previously identified as Limited English Proficient, screening is not required, although English proficiency assessment is required annually in all communicative skills domains.

Assessment of English Language Proficiency and Academic Skills

Possible LEP students will be assessed for level of English Language Proficiency using the ACCESS assessment.

Grade Level Placement

Before making a permanent grade-level placement decision for a language minority student, the LAC will need to have pertinent background information about the child. That information would include, as a minimum: 
    • the child’s chronological age
    • the child’s educational background
    • the child’s English language proficiency level through the ACCESS assessment
    • the child’s academic performance
With this information, which should be collected as expeditiously as possible, the LAC will decide at what grade level the student should be placed. Under no circumstances will a student be placed in a grade level that is more than one year below his/her chronological age. Although it may seem logical to place a language minority child at a grade level that matches the kind of English skills he/she needs to acquire it, it would be a great disservice to the child both cognitively and socially to do so. The school committee is obligated to provide a structured language support program that meets the ESL as well as content area needs of the student consistent with state and federal statute and case law precedent.

Regarding the issue of grade-level retention, on the whole, retention is only advisable when a language minority student is lagging behind peers socially and emotionally (and even that may not be appropriate). It stands to reason that a language minority – LEP child will not be on grade level academically until he/she has had the opportunity to acquire the English skills and content necessary for success. 

It is not appropriate to retain an LEP child solely for the reason of limited English proficiency because the child has unique needs and must be given ample time from grade level to grade level to acquire English proficiency. The school committee accepts the research findings that the acquisition of a second language for cognitive/academic proficiency can take from five to seven years under optimal circumstances of academic and ELP (English Language Proficiency) support.

The most advantageous way to avoid grade-level retention is to make accommodations for the LEP child in the mainstream classroom and to maintain a close collaborative relationship between the mainstream and ESL programs. If an LEP child is referred for retention, the LAC should be included in that process to ensure that language proficiency is not the sole reason for the referral.

III. Programs

Each student will be enrolled in a mainstream program to the extent possible and integrated into regular activities. The regular classroom teacher will share the responsibility of programming with a qualified ESL teacher. Modifications to the regular curriculum will be supported by appropriate instructional materials. An ESL program will be provided at a specified school at each level in order to maximize language support services with sheltered content instruction to support access to the Learning Results.

The following guidelines will be followed for the development of a student’s program:
    1. Instruction will be provided during the regular school hours.
    2. Student’s grade placement will be age appropriate.
    3. The ESL teacher and classroom teacher will coordinate efforts to support the student’s acquisition of English and the Learning Results.
    4. The ESL teacher will extend instruction into the classroom providing support to the LEP student and will share the cultural diversity and the new language with other students.
    5. Instructional space will be provided to the LEP student that is comparably provided to non-LEP students.
    6. The amount of time spent with the ESL teacher will be determined by the Language Assessment Committee based on age and need of the student.
IV. ESL Teacher Requirements
      1. Hold State of Maine Certification with ESL or BE endorsement. 
      2. Administer the ACCESS evaluation used to determine eligibility. 
      3. Communicate every trimester with parents regarding progress of students in a language they understand. 
      4. Recommend modifications or revisions to the LAU Plan. 
      5. Recommend reclassification or exiting of student based on the ACCESS assessment. 
      6. Provide meaningful cultural and language information to student, teachers, and classmates. 
      7. Insure that high school students receive appropriate career and educational information and that all post graduate opportunities are made equitably accessible to them. 
      8. Monitor students who have exited the ESL program for a period of two years. 
      9. Maintain a language development file on each student served by the ESL program. 
Reclassification or Exit Criteria

The following criteria will be used when determining if an LEP student will be classified as a Fluent English Proficient (FEP) student:

1. Student received a Level 6 Composite score on the ACCESS Assessment for ELL’s.

Special Needs Placement:

Determining special needs placement for students who are receiving ESL Services is a complex process. There may be a number of individual or combined factors determining why language and cultural minority students are achieving little academic progress over time; the normal process of second language acquisition, the acculturation process, different learning styles, motivation to learn, or the student’s lack of prior schooling are a number of potential factors instead of intrinsic learning problems. Screening and diagnosing at-risk students receiving ESL services include a number of pre-referral steps to determine whether there exist temporary learning and behavior characteristics shared by learning disabled students and students of English as a second language, or whether referral to special education is warranted. The ESL Specialist must be involved throughout the process.

The following pre-referral process will be followed to determine the necessity for referral to special education:

1. When the student experiences continued, serious academic/social behavioral difficulty: 
      • Examine systematic efforts to identify the source of difficulty: 
a. Curriculum: continuity of exposure; scope and sequence; student’s entry level skills; cognitive demands; mastery criteria; amount of practice exhibited in the native language.

b. Instruction: sequencing of content; language use; effective teaching behaviors; coordination with other teachers.

c. Teacher: qualifications; experience with LEP students; teaching style; expectations; perceptions; instructional management; behavior management.

d. Student: Experiential background; native language proficiency; cultural characteristics; cognitive learning style; locus of control/attribution; self-concept; motivation.

e. Assessment: learning standards; data collection procedures; modifications.
      • Examine the student’s individual and group behavior, parental perceptions, work samples, and teacher perceptions. 
a. Cultural differences: country of origin; length of residence in US; age at arrival. 

b. Language differences: first language characteristics; rate of progress in English; opportunities to use English outside of school; literacy skills in first language. 

c. Environmental factors: background factors; attitudes on schooling; interruptions/traumas; frequency of school moves; family separation; family support for schooling; home environment factors. 

d. Medical/physical factors: history; present conditions. 

e. Achievement/performance factors: listening comprehension; oral expression; basic reading skills; reading comprehension; written expression. 

f. Learning/behavior factors: visual discrimination; auditory discrimination; visual memory, auditory memory; visual motor coordination; attention/coordination; a social perception; problem solving; activity level; speech. 

2. Parents, teachers, and support staff can initiate referral to Special Education. Parents will be provided an interpreter. The Language Assessment Committee can also refer a student to special education services for continued diagnosis and testing if: (a) systematic efforts to identify the source of the difficulty are unsuccessful and/or (b) the Intervention Checklist identifies behavioral patterns deemed necessary for continued assessment. The Language Assessment Committee will gather the information and process the referral observing Special Education regulation timelines. The disabling condition must occur in the student’s primary language to warrant a referral. 

Program Evaluation

In order to ensure the most effective and appropriate structured language support programming for limited English proficient children, a model for overall program evaluation must be developed and utilized consistent with state and federal statute. An annual program evaluation will illustrate:
    1. attainment of program outcomes; 
    2. English language and content acquisition; 
    3. attainment of learner outcomes; 
    4. school climate and support for the program and children; 
    5. the quality of instructional materials, 
    6. the maintenance of information about students; 
    7. the effectiveness of staff development activities; 
    8. the amount and effectiveness of mainstream ESL collaboration; 
    9. the effectiveness of school and program communication with parents; and, 
    10. the implementation of the Lau Plan itself. 
Adopted:    December 11, 2007
Revised:    January 8, 2008; October 13, 2009

M.S.A.D. #4