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English Language Learners

Silver Lake Regional School District and Superintendency Union #31

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English Language Learners Program

Under state and federal law, English language learners must be taught to the same academic standards and be provided the same opportunities to master such standards as other students. (G.L. c. 71A § 7; Equal Educational Opportunities Act, 20 USC § 1703(f); Title III of NCLB § 3102.) Instruction provided to ELLs must be meaningful and appropriate for their individual English language proficiency level.

Students should only be classified as ELLs (or “Limited English Proficient – LEP”) when the results of language screening assessments or annual language proficiency assessments indicate that they are not proficient in English.

Academic Programming for ELLs includes:

Sheltered English Instruction (SEI): Sheltered English instruction (SEI) includes differentiated approaches, strategies and methodology to make the content of lessons more comprehensible and to promote the development of academic language needed to successfully master content standards. Sheltered content instruction is taught by qualified content area teachers. It is based on district-level content area curriculum that is aligned to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks (Frameworks) and that integrates components of the WIDA ELD Standards. SEI is taught by a content licensed teacher who has obtained SEI Endorsement.

English as a Second Language (ESL) Instruction: The goal of ESL instruction is to advance English language development and to promote academic achievement (Appendix J). English language proficiency includes social and academic language in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. ESL instruction provides systematic, explicit, and sustained language instruction, and prepares students for general education by focusing on academic language. Effective ESL instruction supports student success in school, including improvement of ACCESS scores and acceleration of academic achievement. Effective ESL instruction also supports long term goals such as college and career readiness. ESL instruction is taught by a licensed ESL Teacher.

Support Services:

The district is fully committed to the education and learning needs of all students. We recognize that all of our students have individual learning styles that at one time or another may require some kind of accommodation within the classroom or school environment. Consequently, in each of our schools, we have a variety of supports available to all students who may need them. Students and their teachers are encouraged to explore and avail themselves of district-wide services and programs that address diverse learning needs.

Equal Access to Academic and Nonacademic/Extracurricular Activities:

In accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the district prohibits discrimination, exclusion from participation, and denial of benefits based on race, color, or national origin in any programs or activities that are offered by the district school. District personnel must make every effort to ensure that (1) ELL students have access to the full range of opportunities, supports, and services that are available to any non-ELL students; (2) ELL students participate fully with their English-speaking peers; and (3) ELL students are provided the necessary supports for participation in academic and non-academic/extracurricular programs and activities.

Notice Regarding Opt-Out Procedures:

Parents may notify the district of their wish to have their child “opt-out” of the ELL program. This means that a parent or guardian chooses to deny their child’s entry into the SEI program in our district. The district requires that a parent or guardian schedule a meeting with the ELL staff in order to exercise this option. The form titled Parents’ Choice to Opt out of English Language Program must be signed in order to make this official. Parents of children under 10 may “opt-out” even if that student has not been enrolled in an ELL classroom for 30 days. Our district encourages parents to allow their children to participate in our ELL program for a limited time before they make a final determination to “opt-out” of the program. We will continue to keep parents apprised of their child’s progress. Federal law establishes a district’s obligation to provide ELL students with meaningful access to the education program. Because of this, when a parent declines their child’s participation in a formal language instruction program, the district will continue to monitor the progress of the student to ensure that the student has an equal opportunity to have his or her English language and academic needs met. Where a district determines through monitoring that a student who has “opted out” is not progressing, the district will ensure that the student’s academic needs are being addressed. Students will continue to be reported on the SIMS data and assessed annually using the DESE mandated assessments (ACCESS, MCAS) appropriate for their grade.

Notice Regarding Waiver Procedures:

If a family believes that the student should be placed in a program other than that which the ELL Teacher recommends, the family has a right to request a waiver for alternate placement in a bilingual or other educational program. General Laws Chapter 71A provides for waivers based on parent or administrator request under certain circumstances, assuming that the parent annually applies by visiting the student’s school and by providing written informed consent.

For students under the age of 10, with parental consent, waivers are allowed under all of the following conditions: The student has been placed in an ELL classroom for at least 30 days prior to the parent’s application for a waiver. Documentation by school officials in no less than 250 words that the student has special and individual physical or psychological needs, separate from lack of English proficiency, that require an alternative course of educational study and inclusion of such documentation in the student’s permanent school record. Authorizing signatures on the waiver application of both the school superintendent and the school principal.

For students over the age of 10, with parental consent, waivers are allowed when it is the informed belief of the school principal and educational staff that an alternate course of educational study would be better for the student’s overall educational progress and rapid acquisition of English language skills. If there are 20 students or more of a given grade level in one particular language group whose parents have waived the ELL program in favor of a bilingual or other type of language support program, the district will be required to offer that type of program. In all other cases, students with waivers will be permitted to transfer to a public school in which such programs are offered.