DUSD's plan to help English learners

DOWNEY - There is a plethora of federal and state standards and guidelines that school districts must meet if they are to pass judgment by the regulatory educational agencies. Some are deemed in educational circles as fair, others as plain stupid. But until the regulatory goals themselves are met/adjusted, there is no choice but for districts to do as they are told if they are to obtain educational funding, continued accreditation, and so on.One such mandate is for the district to meet three so-called "annual measurable achievement objectives" or AMAOs, targets for Title III English Learners (ELs). These are: 1) the annual progress in learning English as based on the California English language development test (CELDT); 2) progress in attaining English language proficiency, as determined on the CELDT; and 3) Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) on the California Standards Test (CST) in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. \ Failure to meet one or more of these conditions for four consecutive years will require the submission of an improvement plan. DUSD exceeded standards on the first two measures, but its results on the third criterion were not deemed significant enough to meet AYP, so to the drawing board went administrative services. The board approved the plan Tuesday. The plan employs a four-pronged attack, in most cases developed by outside professional educational consultants and often steeped in academic jargon: 1) continued implementation of data analysis to guide instruction and monitor student achievement; 2) the development of a structure of strategic and intensive intervention support to students during the school day, including criteria for service and exit from the intervention program; 3) providing professional development in Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP), differentiated small group reading instruction, and cognitively guided instruction in math; and 4) promoting effective parental involvement in the school. At any rate, most if not all of these professionally developed programs have been applied at DUSD for some time now and the appropriate training provided to the lead teachers in charge of administering them. The above plan addresses all the pertinent requirements of the mandate. No.1 of course states the facts of the situation, and No. 2 indicates the areas where students need intervention and support. No. 3 employs various means by which English learners and math-deficient students may be helped along by understanding and competent instructors, using student-specific and unique lessons to teach the two subjects. Although difficult to realize, No. 4, encouraging parents to take a more active involvement in their children's education could perhaps be the most important element in the whole equation. The plan covers a lot of ground and looks rational enough, and doable enough. All that's needed is the requisite passion, the unremitting patience, and the unflagging energy of teachers charged with educating the children under their care.

********** Published: February 10, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 43