Great. To start off I would like to know anything you can share about your ELL programs offered at schools within your district. I read on the district website that schools offer Transitional Program of Instruction, Transitional Bilingual Program, and Newcomer programs.

First off our program does not reflects CPS at all. To start of we have 3 languages in our district in order Arabic, Spanish and Polish.  Years ago before I arrived they tried the self contained model, but the community rejected because it was basically segregation put Arabic students in one class, Spanish Speakers in another, Polish in another and then the English speakers.  About 95% of the parents refused the EL services under this model.  So, we changed it to providing TBE and ESL services during our ELA block. In 1st – 3rd students leave their regular homeroom to meet with a TBE teacher for the reading block.  In 4th and 5th they are pulled out for TBE services or co-taught for about 45 minutes again trying to keep it during the reading block.  In middle school students have ESL or TBE built into their schedule so they will see an ELL teacher for Reading, Math, or SS and for newcomers see an EL teacher for all their classes other than their specials.

Newcomers in elementary benefit if they receive TBE services and than the ESL teacher of TBE teacher provides additional support during the school day.  If a newcomer is form an non-TBE language we try to provide above and beyond the 45 minutes ESL minutes that they would get.  This is a team effort so it is done in a case by case bases since we don’t know who we are getting during the year.  But, our EL program is based on flexibility, to the point that our schedules are flexible enough to change it quickly if need be.

I was wondering how successful have these programs been for the ELL demographic in your district?

Depends on what you mean by success.  If you want to look at ACCESS, IAR, NWEA – MAP scores it doesn’t seem successful, but based on how our students are able to works with the regular English curriculum and be successful, then it is very successful.  We have had newcomer’s EL needs be reduced drastically from one year to another due to the fact that they pick up quickly.


What screeners/assessments are used to place students into language services?

We only use the WIDA ACCESS and MODEL screeners.  We do lots of teacher observations and interviews to check on students.  Specially in Arabic, students don’t learn how to read or write until much older, and dialects in the middle east makes it difficult to have one language test.


Are students assessed in their native language?

No they are not since our goal is English, not native language.  Most Arabic and Polish families do not believe that we should be teaching native language they have their after school or Saturday schools for that. We may observe them, do a quick knowledge inventory, some interviews, but nothing formal.  EL students are the most over assessed students in our country, more testing is just a burden on them.


What languages have you noticed are most common among your ELL students?

Arabic is our main language, Spanish is our second, we are seeing more Russian, Tajik (mixture of Arabic/Russian), and Vietnamese recently. Our Polish language fluctuates form year to year.

Are there any professional development opportunities  offered to the bilingual/ESL teachers? Are they mandatory or optional?

It is mandatory for our staff to attend two professional developments. We usually provide one per year but it is mostly for new teachers, and we refer the seasoned staff to attend the IRC workshops, specially the free ones, they can attend as many as they feel necessary, but on average most attend between 2 – 4.

Do principals and school administrators have their ESL Endorsements? Do all or most teachers have an ESL endorsement?

No none of our principals have ESL endorsements.  There are 14 EL staff in my department, but district wide we have 66 staff members with EL endorsement (ESL, TBE, or Both).   We require all our preschool and kindergarten teachers to have the bilingual or ESL endorsement.

Can you tell me about budgeting and funding. How much money is spent for ELL students?

I could not tell you, since the new funding came into place all students are lumped together.  Up to three years ago we received about 3/4 of a million dollars extra for EL students, but now most of that money is distributed with the general funding.  I do get and extra 75 – 90 K yearly for materials, supplies, summers school, parent activities, PD, etc. to spend on EL students.

Right now I am wondering if you can give me a basic overview of how the ESL program works particularly at Harnew. How many ESL teachers?

There is a difference between how many ESL teachers are there and how many are actually part of the department.

There are officially 3 teachers who are part of the EL department.  But, every preschool and kindergarten teacher is EL certified (ESL or TBE), every kindergarten teacher is certified, there is one teacher in 1st, one is 2nd, and I believe 1 in 4th that are certified.  Although, by law they do provide EL minutes for students they are not officially part of my department,

Are they push in or pull out? Do we have Bilingual classrooms?

We provide both pull out and push out, based on scheduling and the needs of students.  For example in kindergarten we push in and we never pull those students out.  In graders 1st – 5th we may push in and pull out students based on the needs of students.  We do have bilingual classrooms, but not like more districts.  We do not offer full day bilingual, being that we have 3 major languages it would look like segregation if we did.  Before, I arrived they tried all day pullout bilingual class and parents rejected.  So, now we offer bilingual classes during the ELA block for 1st – 3rd, and some pull out support for fourth and 5th.

I saw online in the Illinois report card that Harnew has 31% ESL students?

There are exactly 202 students at Harnew who qualify for EL services.  But, that does not include the new pre-schoolers that I still need to screen, and a few new students that came in a few weeks ago.


Do you have a list of the languages spoken at Harnew?  See attachment

Finally, I know you talked about this at the new teacher meeting last month but can you also let me know what services are available for newcomers?

If newcomers speak Spanish, Arabic or Polish we have native language support.  But, when they are Vietnamese, Tajik, Russian, etc. we try to provide as much ESL support that we can.



And what were the contents of that kit you showed us again?

The Kit has an IPad with specific apps for newcomer students to practice  their language acquisition.  It has a talking pen that works with specific books which the student can have read in English and their language (Spanish, Arabic, Polish and some Vietnamese.)  It has a Word their ways manual for teachers to use.  There is a set of designated words and phrases for students to practice.  Teachers are also provided with a password for Reading A – Z the ELL component.


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