After a thorough review of state and district English Language Learner (ELL) assessments, School Accountability Report Card and school goals, we learned that twenty seven percent of students at Livingston Middle School were classified as English Language Learners. California state regulations mandate English Language Learners have additional support in English Language Development (ELD). At our school, this support is offered through an ELD course. This course prevents students from participation in elective courses, which creates an inequity in elective course options. In order for students to have an elective course opportunity, students must be reclassified as proficient in the English language. In order to be reclassified, students must pass the California English Language Development Test (CELDT), have a C or better in their language arts class and read at their grade level requirement. Our district, school and school counseling program believe that language proficiency should not be a barrier to learning and, therefore, many interventions are in place to support our students.
An improved best practice this year was that counselors placed students in the ELD courses according to their CELDT level, which was determined by disaggregating the CELDT scores. This allowed each ELD teacher to focus on content based on students’ English proficiency level. School counselors ensured that the sixty-six intermediate English Language Learners were invited to academic intervention during lunchtime. Attendance records showed that students were not actively participating in this intervention. School counselors reached out to students and parents via in-person conferences, letters and phone calls. These efforts resulted in an increase in attendance, however school counselors plan to collaborate with academic clinicians and site administration to increase the participation rate of lunchtime academic intervention. An additional area of improvement that is needed is the creation and implementation of standard pre and post test for students participating in academic interventions.
School counselors and academic clinicians worked together to launch the “Book club” (reading club) for students that passed the CELDT exam, but were not reading at their required reading level. Research shows that by improving reading skills, students are able to improve their academic English proficiency. All eight participants of the “Book club” met the reading level requirement. When students were reclassified a big celebration was provided, which included a luncheon and a gift bag. School counselors monitored and selected English Language Learners to participate in the Collaboration Problem-Solving and Investigation (CSI) math club based on their math performance. The curriculum used in this club engaged students to solve mysteries using math. Ten out of thirteen students improved their math grade. Students were given a club tee shirt and invited to see the movie “Hidden Figures”, which promoted the success of minority mathematicians. In addition, three English Language Learners qualified for the rigorous California Junior Scholarship Federation club (CJSF) membership, which is counselor-led. This club is for high academic achieving students. These students visited different universities, heard college admission presentations and spoke directly to college students.
School counselors provided guidance lessons to all students during the school year. A few adjustments were made for our newcomer English Language Learners to understand the lesson. Both the lesson and data collection tool were translated to the student’s primary language.
One of the school counselors is part of the English Learners Advisory Committee (ELAC), which promotes parent involvement in the education of English Language Learners. Our parent participation was low and, we collaborated with the principal and made several suggestions to enhance participation. For example, we plan to provide childcare, offer a meal and schedule an evening meeting.
These intentional interventions contributed to forty-four of seventy-four eighth grade English Language Learners being reclassified. This means that fifty-nine percent of eighth grade ELL students are eligible to take college preparatory classes. Additionally, our reclassification rate improved from forty-four to forty-eight percent. As we anticipated when selecting our mindsets and behaviors, our ELL students built and created relationships with adults that supported their success. During graduation, students shared their appreciation towards teachers, translators and counselors who advocated and supported them through middle school. Our ELL students used their abilities to achieve high-quality results and outcomes, for example, being reclassified as proficient in English. Our ELL students overcame barriers to learning by accessing a variety of academic interventions. As a result, we plan to continue with the interventions that are in place for English Language Learners. We plan to collaborate further with our ELD district coordinator and ELD teachers in order to enhance the supports we offer.