English Language Learner Program (ELL)
Mount Greylock School District welcomes students with diverse backgrounds and cultural experiences.
The English Language Learner Program in the Mount Greylock Public Schools ensures students with limited English proficiency have access to educational opportunities by providing services that assist them with the attainment of English language proficiency, develop high levels of academic attainment to be college ready, and meet the same statewide standards of achievement that all students are expected to meet.
The English Language Learner Program in the Mount Greylock Public Schools provides specialized English language instruction to students who are not yet fluent in English. Our program is designed to provide sequential English language development which supports students’ acquisition of the English language using the WIDA (World Class Instructional Design and Assessment) English Language Standards from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as the core for curriculum.
Curriculum is based on scientific research and is designed to meet age-appropriate academic achievement standards for each grade or grade span. Grade level content is made comprehensible using scaffolding techniques and modifications to meet individual students’ language needs and learning styles. Vocabulary is previewed and comprehension checks are in place to ensure understanding. Instruction is highly interactive using a variety of groupings with ample opportunity to develop listening and speaking skills. Information is presented using graphic organizers, visuals, different levels of academic language, and other strategies and techniques that help students understand content. ESL teachers provide support primarily in English language arts but may provide additional support in math and other content areas. Classroom and support teachers deliver instruction collaboratively with ESL teachers. ELL students have daily interaction with native-speaking peers.
The ESL program design follows state recommendations and guidelines for time allocations for different proficiency levels and ages for ELL students. Our program also requires specific curriculum content, guided by state and district standards. Title III requires an annual assessment of the English language proficiency of all limited English proficiency (LEP) students in grades K-12 in domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. LEP students must be assessed on an annual basis to determine individual growth in each domain. When a student reaches an overall score on or above a 4.3, and a composite literacy score of 3.9 on their yearly WIDA Access test, the student will be evaluated to be reclassified to FEL status. FEL status (Former English Learner) no longer receives supplemental ELL services but is monitored for four academic years to ensure continued academic progress.
Student progress is reported by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in two report forms.
ACCESS Test – administered in January – February each year. This test is annually administered as an accountability measure. It is a three-tiered test so that students encounter questions targeted at their current range of English language proficiency. Using this test, students are able to show what they know at the time of the test.
MODEL Screening – a screening or benchmark language proficiency measure that provides teachers a tool for making initial and ongoing placement decisions and data for instruction. This screening is administered by the ESL teacher upon entry to the Williamstown-Lanesborough Public Schools system.
MCAS – The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education conducts yearly MCAS tests. These tests measure each child’s progress toward meeting the state curriculum mandates.
- MCAS refers to the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. This test is for all students in grade 3 and above. It is a statewide standards-based system which serves to evaluate student, school, and district performance. The results are also used to inform and improve curriculum and instruction.
AYP – The results of these tests are reported to Norwood Public Schools in the form of individual student data, school-wide data, and system-wide data. The state also reports Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP). This report determines the achievement of each school district and school in both reading and mathematics. AYP is designed to ensure continuous improvement each year toward the goal of 100% proficiency in 2014.
AMAO – Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAO) are set annually by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and specify the percentage of academic growth.
Copies of individual MCAS results for each child are sent home to each parent/guardian. Letters and information packets are also sent home and posted regarding Adequate Yearly Progress, NCLB report cards and AMAO reports.
The ESL program is provided in the 2 elementary schools and at Mount Greylock Regional School. The ESL staff work in close contact and collaboration with classroom teachers, support personnel, the building principal, and parents to ensure the best programming possible for each child.
English Language Learner Program Goals:
To provide a welcoming environment where students feel free to take risks and explore the English Language.
To facilitate the acquisition of English Language development in order for students to participate fully in all general education activities.
To facilitate the development of English language skills and comprehension in the areas of speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
To offer a culturally responsive environment and instruction to promote academic and social growth.
Mount Greylock Public Schools ESL program uses strategies to help the students master English as quickly as possible. The program is designed to promote the development of appropriate academic and social skills, and hold high expectations for each student to progress in content areas without loss of achievement due to the student’s English proficiency level. The setting is affirming and teachers integrates skills and concepts in meaningful and useful ways based on the student’s learning styles, cultural backgrounds, and language levels.
How are students identified?
At the time of enrollment in the Mount Greylock School District, parents complete a Home Language Survey for their child. If the parent indicates that the student speaks more than one language at home, the student is referred for an English proficiency assessment. This year the WIDA Screener, W-APT, WIDA Screener Remote, and D Pre-Las, based on grade level, will be administered by an English as a Second Language teacher. This assessment provides the school with language, cultural and background information on the incoming student. The results are used to determine the amount of support services a student receives and shows the student’s level of ELD proficiency to determine the direction for academic success.
Parents are advised of the program options and information regarding their rights to accept or reject the services available. If the parent declines services, state testing must still be administered. If the parent accepts the program recommendations, the student is then placed in our ESL SEI program services. Students are placed in programs according to their proficiency levels in speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
Sheltered English Immersion
“Sheltering” English is a means of modifying curriculum, instructional strategies, assessment, and materials for all levels of English learners in the general education classroom. In Massachusetts, all classroom teachers and other professional staff were required by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to complete 4 categories of SEI (Sheltered English Immersion) training. This training builds their capacity to work effectively with all learners, including ELL students. Learning opportunities for all the new WIDA standards will be available to the Mount Greylock Public Schools teachers through our professional development programming.
Participation in the ESL program is optional and parents have the right to withdraw their child at any time. Parents who decline services are informed that the Department of Education requires that their child must still take the English Language Proficiency Assessment test (ACCESS) annually until they receive a passing score or evidence of proficiency is established using another measure (IPT, DRA, etc.)
How long will my child be in the ELL Program?
The length of time your child will be in the ELL program depends on the development of English language skills. There are several factors including the age at which the language is being learned, years of language study, literacy skills in the native language, etc. Teachers are continually reviewing grades, reviewing mandated state test results, teacher recommendations, and other criteria to determine when your child will no longer need language support. Research demonstrates that on average it takes 5-7 years for students to become fluent in academic English.
English Learners with Disabilities/Special Education
English Learners with Disabilities
Some ELs may have a disability and qualify for special education services. Language development programming and special education programming are not mutually exclusive and all ELs must receive all supports, resources, and programming for which they are eligible. In other words, ELs are eligible for special education services if they meet IEP eligibility criteria and, conversely, students with a disability are eligible for ELE programming if they are ELs.
Reclassification and Exiting the ELL Program
Students exit from the ESL program once they reach a score of overall score of 4.3 or above and a Composite literacy score of 3.9 or above on the ACCESS test that is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in the winter of each year. Students new to the Mount Greylock School District participate in the initial test in the fall during the year they enter our system and the ACCESS Test in the winter of their first year.
The levels of proficiency for the ACCESS are Level 1 – Entering, Level 2 – Beginning, Level 3 – Developing, Level 4 – Expanding, and Level 5 – Bridging.
Once there is evidence that the student is able to successfully participate in grade-appropriate content and continues to perform on par with his or her peers (e.g., grades, state assessments, work samples), the student will be reclassified. Parents and classroom teachers are notified in writing when a student is reclassified to monitor status.
Reclassification and Monitoring
It is a state regulation that students who exit the ESL program be monitored for four years to ensure that they are having success in the regular classroom. At the end of each grading period classroom teachers are given a “Monitor Reporting Survey.” The purpose of this document is to indicate if the student is experiencing academic difficulties. If the student is experiencing difficulty related to language development, he/she will be readmitted to the ESL program.
Monitoring is ended after four years if the results of the monitoring indicate that the student is having success in the mainstream and demonstrates English proficiency.
Questions and Answers Regarding Chapter 71A: English Language Education in Public Schools
There are over 90, 204 English Language Learners (ELLs) in Massachusetts public schools, making up 9.5% of the total student population.
90% of districts have at least one ELL.
19% of districts have100 or more ELLs.
The top ten languages or language groups spoken by ELLs in Massachusetts are Spanish Portuguese Chinese (all dialects) Cape Verdean, Haitian, Creole, Vietnamese, Arabic, Khmer, Russian, French
Note: Massachusetts adopted the WIDA standards. The use of WIDA standards began in the academic year 2012-2013.
State ELL Resources
State Agency: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
ELL Website: English Language Learners
Laws & Regulations
Overview of New Law Supporting English Learners
On November 22, 2017, Governor Baker signed into law the LOOK Act. Broadly, the new law aims to provide districts with more flexibility as to the language acquisition programs they choose to meet the needs of English learners while maintaining accountability for timely and effective English language acquisition. Below is a brief summary of the key implications of the law.
See LOOK Act - English Language Learners
See https://www.doe.mass.edu/ele/ for more information.
See Identifying Limited English Proficient Students.
Home Language Survey: According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education “each district should design a Home Language Survey that meets its own needs.”
Placement Exams: Massachusetts uses the Kindergarten W-APT, WIDA MODEL for Kindergarten, WIDA Screener for Kindergarten (anticipated to be available in March 2021), and WIDA Screener for Grades 1-12 to identify English learners (ELs). ACCESS for ELLs or Alternate ACCESS for ELLs, as appropriate, is given to all ELs during the annual testing window, which extends from early January through early February.
English Learners with Disabilities/Special Education
See: https://www.doe.mass.edu/ele/disability.html For State Information on English Learners with Disabilities/Special Education
ELP Standards & Assessment
ELP Standards: English Language Performance and Benchmark Outcomes [ELPBO]
ELP Assessment: Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment
Note: The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education uses the WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards and WIDA Access for its ELP standards and assessments.
The following documents offer information about ELL instruction:
- Instructional Guidance
- Documents to assist school districts in implementing Sheltered English Immersion (SEI).
Statewide Standards-Based Assessment
Assessment: Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System
ELL Accommodations: See Participation Requirements for more information.
NCELA: Title III Information
Common Core State Standards: Yes
Note: Regulations change with time. These guidelines were compiled in January of 2012. If you see something that needs updating, please send an email to Colorín Colorado. For more detailed information regarding ELL guidelines and policies at the state and federal levels, please see the following:
- Federal Regulations Regarding ELLs
- Perspectives on a Population: English-Language Learners in American Schools (Education Week‘s Quality Counts 2009 Report)
AFT Massachusetts is a statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers that works for education reform and the preservation of public schools.
Massachusetts Association of Teachers to Speakers of Other Languages
Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages (MATSOL) is a professional association representing teachers, English language learners, and their families in K-12 public schools in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts DOE Resources for Family and Community Involvement
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education offers resources for family literacy and community involvement, providing information about program design and links to other useful Websites.
Massachusetts DOE Resources for Family and Community Involvement: Additional Resources
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education offers online federal resources for educational excellence, family resources from the MA Department of Social Services, and guidelines for learning at museums.
Massachusetts State Parent Information Resource Centers
The purpose of the Massachusetts State PIRC is to enhance the capacities of parents, families, schools, and school districts to improve children’s school readiness and students’ academic achievement through increased parental participation.
Massachusetts Teachers Association
Massachusetts Teachers Association is a National Education Association State Affiliate that regularly lobbies legislators for the resources schools need, campaigns for higher professional standards for the teaching profession, and files legal actions to protect academic freedom and the rights of school employees.
Updated: December 2020