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The English Language Acquisition Program

The district operates the ELL program to serve the needs of Bismarck Public Schools' Limited English Proficient (LEP) students. The philosophy of the ELL program is to promote the English language development focusing on vocabulary and grammar while supporting the classroom or content teachers in their goal to meet the needs of all diverse learners.

Bismarck Public Schools' Title III ELL Program design is based on the research of Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA) and Sheltered Instruction approach.

CALLA is designed to enhance academic achievement. Broadly speaking, this approach actvocates the teaching of language through the content areas. The application of this research in Bismarck's ELL program with LEP students is very appropriate. It uses a number of varied learning strategies to meet the needs of the LEP students, has focus on the acquisition of academic language and views the role of content as a critical element for motivation in developing English language proficiency.

Sheltered instruction (SIOP) is a proven effective approach in addressing the academic needs of English language learners. The model consists of eight components:
  • Lesson Preparation
  • Building Background
  • Comprehensible Input
  • Strategies
  • Interaction
  • Practice/Application
  • Lesson Delivery, and
  • Review/Assessment
Using instructional strategies linked to these components, content area teachers help English learners develop their academic English skills as they learn grade-level content.

Bismarck Public Schools' ELL Program is designed to meet the needs of the student by providing a secure environment where the students are encouraged to focus on their own prior knowledge within the context of the grade-level classroom. They acquire new information by learning to ask and answer higher-level comprehension questions and then expanding on new concepts. Content is more motivating than language alone and it provides a context for learning and applying new learning strategies.

Native American students who qualify for the Title I/District reading program, and middle and high school students that are failing English, math, and other core academic courses may qualify for the ELL program. 2004 was the initial year of implementation of this program, a process was developed in which each suspected Native American student was screened for English language proficiency and a determination of their LEP status was made.

Some American Indian LEP students speak what is referred to as Reservation English. This is a non standard dialect of English and is well documented in linguistic literature by William Leap. His research is presented in Language Renewal Among American Indian Tribes, National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, 1982. He states the Reservation English has specific grammatical, phonological, and lexical elements not found in standard English. Regardless of the language spoken at home, students who speak Reservation English do not enter school possessing the skills in standard and academic English needed to succeed in school. Although this non-standard dialect form is well documented, no standard form for rating oral language proficiency has been developed.

Research indicates that certain instructional techniques and strategies work particularly well with American Indian students. (Effective Practices in Indian Education: A Teachers' Monograph. Pepper, 1985). Learning by discovery, cooperative learning and concrete learning experiences will be stressed in the developed learning activities. By acknowledging the student's cultural backgrounds' contributions in the LEP students' grade level classroom, an appreciation for diverse cultures is gained in the BPS ELL program.

The major purpose of BPS ELL Program is to increase the English language proficiency of the identified LEP students as quickly as possible by implementing the design as described. North Dakota is in the process of developing a guidance document for North Dakota English Language standards for LEP students. This document will be used to focus the program's resources in helping the LEP students meet the objectives and assure they are making adequate yearly progress as measured on the State Assessment. This information will be shared with the LEP student's Language support committee to assure the student's entire team is focused on the same objectives.

Based on assessment results, LEP students will be provided instruction in basic English language, phonics, vocabulary, reading, and conversational language strategies to help students develop the Basic Interpersonal Cognitive Skills (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) levels. The staff will use a variety of evaluation, assessment, and teaching strategies to work with LEP students. LEP students should be able to participate in a certain amount of classroom activities with support. They will continue to need English language instruction to assist them in accessing the classroom curriculum. ELL services should coordinate more with the classroom curriculum as students gain proficiency.

Staff Responsibilities and Credentials for Instruction

  1. ELL Program Director
    The ELL Director supervises the overall operation of the ELL program. The ELL Program Director is expected to:
    • Ascertain that the goals and requirements of the program are met
    • Manage the budget.
    • Hire and Supervises ELL staff.
    • Write grants for financial support.
    • Prepare and submit federal and state program applications and documentation
    • Coordinate program with other existing district programs
    • Manage the program consistent with the current knowledge base on LEP instruction.
    • Oversee activities and materials for ELL use that indicate an understanding of the language proficiency level of students.
    • Promote and understand the supportive roles and responsibilities of parents.
    • Ensure the district's compliance with NCLB and ongoing review for periodic update and presentation to the school committee for its action.
    • Oversee scheduling, proper placement, and appropriate accommodations for the BEST INTEREST of the STUDENT.
  2. ELL Coordinator
    The ELL Coordinator serves as a liaison between teachers and the program director. The ELL Coordinator is expected to:
    • Supervises annual English proficiency testing, including ordering of testing materials, dissemination, development, and maintenance of records.
    • Monitors progress of exited students.
    • Schedules staff to work with identified LEP students.
    • Serves as a contact person upon the arrival of new non-English speaking students.
    • Provides consultative services for the Missouri River Educational Consortium (MREC).
  3. ELL Resource Teacher
    To work cooperatively with program director, classroom teachers and building principals in teaching ELL students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
    A. Program Responsibilities:
    The ELL teacher position requires a combination of program coordination, staff supervision and teaching of ELL students. The ELL teacher is expected to:
    • Assist with the enrollment of new immigrant students.
    • Completes language proficiency assessments and assists with accommodations with district assessments.
    • Develop an Individual Language Plan (ILP), in cooperation with classroom teachers for LEP students.
    • Coordinates instruction and student needs with general education teachers
    • Provide assistance and/or ELL curriculum materials for classroom teachers for the education of LEP students.
    • Supervise scheduling and activities of ELL instructional aides and other ELL support staff.
    • Monitor LEP Power school data
    • Coordinate translators and interpreters for conferences and school events.
    • Provide training for instructional aides and classroom teachers on appropriate ELL methodology.
    • Attend Teacher Assistance Team and Child Study meetings when an LEP student is referred.
    • Quarterly monitoring LEP students grades, attendance, and dropout rate
    • Maintain ELL student records
    B. Qualifications:
    • North Dakota licensure in elementary and secondary education with ESL bilingual education endorsement
    • Ability to work with a variety of people and situations
    • Ability to manage, coordinate and supervise
    • Experience working with multicultural students preferred
    • Knowledge of second language preferred
  4. ELL Instruction Assistant
    To work cooperatively, assisting ELL resource teacher and classroom teachers in the instruction of English Language Learner students.
    Performance Responsibilities
    • To assist the resource teacher and classroom teacher in achieving ELL Program objectives by working with individual students or small groups and using techniques consistent with program design.
    • To reinforce learning of materials, concepts, and skills initially introduced by resource teacher or classroom teacher.
    • To work with targeted students, using a variety of materials and instructional methods, including: computer-assisted instruction, instructional manipulative, etc.
    • To contribute to a well organized, smooth functioning class environment in which students can take full advantage of the instructional program and available resource materials.
    • To confer with the classroom teachers or resource teacher on any problems, or special information about individual students.
    • To maintain the same high level of ethical behavior and confidentiality on information about students as is expected of certified staff.
    • To develop an awareness and sensitivity of the cultural/language background of LEP students in program.
    • To attend in-service training programs as assigned.

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