Contact Person: Samuel Klein
The purpose of ESOL services is to provide English instruction and related services for those 35,936 FCPS (September 2012) limited English proficient (LEP) students who need support in order to achieve high academic standards. LEP students in FCPS are referred to as English learners (ELs). As the number of English learners in the FCPS student population has risen, ESOL services continue to meet the needs of English learners and the teachers who instruct them. ESOL services’ goals are aligned with local, state, and federal goals for English learners.
Federal guidelines require that public schools provide special services (such as ESOL services or bilingual education) to limited English proficient (LEP) students in order to develop their English proficiency. In FCPS, ESOL (English language proficiency (ELP) levels 1-4) and Bridging (ELP level 5) services are provided to develop the English proficiency of English learners. These services provide the academic foundation, English literacy, and additional supports English learners need to meet challenging state and local academic standards. Using an integrated approach, where academic English is taught through the content subjects (language arts, mathematics, science and social studies), English learners are provided the supports necessary to reach their fullest academic potential and obtain a meaningful educational experience. Continued alignment of instruction with the English Language Development standards and the FCPS Program of Studies will help students attain proficiency in academic English as they simultaneously work on the content-area subject matter they need for academic success. Scientifically-based research (National Study of School Effectiveness for Language Minority Students’ Long-Term Academic Achievement, Thomas and Collier, CREDE 2002) demonstrates the efficacy of content-based ESOL instruction which is at the core of learning for FCPS ESOL students.
According to the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), “Integrated language and content instruction provides opportunities for learners to acquire a new language through the study of academic disciplines such as mathematics, science, and history (and language arts). Also known as content-centered or content-based language learning, this approach is an effective way for both English language learners and learners of other languages to develop their language skills and their academic skills at the same time.” (CAL 2012) "Broadly defined, it (content-based instruction) is task-based instruction and assessment of knowledge, skills and academic language within a content area. The academic language includes the concepts, key vocabulary, grammar, and discourse necessary to accomplish content-area tasks. ” (Sherris, 2008) Our professional development is based on this research, so that teachers and school staff are aware of the importance of content based instruction.
Parent outreach and educating parents on the importance of family-school connections is crucial. According to a 2002 report from Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 'when schools and their families work together to support learning, the students achieve at higher rates, stay longer in school and tend to view school in a more positive light.' Therefore, there is a need for parents to be taught about these benefits.
In elementary ESOL instruction, kindergarten through grade 6, ESOL teachers work collaboratively with classroom teachers and other staff to teach challenging academic content to prepare students for middle school and beyond. They work with small groups both inside and outside the classroom to provide targeted instruction and support based on individual student needs. Students actively participate in hands-on language rich activities in the classroom that promote academic language development and creativity.
At the secondary level, grades 7-12, secondary students, in addition to other courses, are enrolled in content-based ESOL courses to support their academic language development and provide them the English necessary to demonstrate complex thinking and learning. Through engaging and challenging interactions with teachers and peers, students acquire the English language proficiency skills and content knowledge needed to be ready for college and career.
So that all teachers can assist ELs as they simultaneously acquire English and content knowledge, staff development includes continued training for all teachers on the best practices for teaching content and language development together.
A wide variety of on-going training is offered: multiple sections of graduate-credit level courses “Working with English Language Learners” ,"ELLevate: Raising Achievement for ELLs," and "Delivering Instruction to Diverse Learners: The Work of Professional Learning Communities." In addition, there is a wide variety of after-school and day long workshops for elementary and secondary ESOL teachers, as well as workshops for classroom teachers. The workshops include sessions on differentiation of math instruction, integrating technology into math and language classes, a series for new ESOL teachers, training for middle and high school math teachers and training for elementary ESOL teachers to integrate social studies, math and science objectives into their instruction. Additionally, 21st century skills and training on how to use formative assessment results to guide instruction are incorporated in staff development offerings
FCPS appreciates and recognizes the critical role of families’ involvement in their children's successful academic careers. Bilingual/bicultural parent liaisons promote activities and programs, reaching out to LEP families so that they feel welcomed, informed, and connected to their children’s schools. Community Liaisons at student registration offices welcome LEP families new to Fairfax, tell them about their new school system, and connect them to the parent liaison and other community resources. A wide variety of literacy programs enhance LEP students’ success in school.
BUDGET: For information about the ESOL budget please refer to page 38 of the FCPS FY 2013 Approved Budget at the link below.