Each school year, the EL teacher, together with a language support team that may include the EL student’s parents, classroom teachers, and a school administrator, create an individualized language plan for each English learner. You may hear this plan referred to as an “ILP" or an “EL plan." Federal law requires that a plan be created and implemented every year for each student who enters or is continuing in the EL program.
If you have not seen a copy of your students’ ILPs, please ask the EL teacher assigned to your school to provide you with this confidential document. A copy of the ILP is stored in the lime green EL folder located within each EL student’s cumulative file. Another copy of the ILP is sent home to parents, along with an invitation for the parents to help the team develop and approve this document.
One of the most helpful sections of the ILP is the portion entitled "ILP Considerations." Here you will find any information gleaned on the student's background, level of native language proficiency, educational history in the home country and in the United States (as applicable), and the student's strengths and needs. Parents play a crucial role in drafting this portion of the ILP.
The "Student Academic Needs" portion of the ILP is designed to record assessment data, including a student's Fountas and Pinnell (F & P) reading level, AIMSweb + reading and math scores, NWEA (MAP) reading and math scores, and North Dakota State Assessment proficiency levels. There may be other data available that will be helpful in determining how much EL support (and what type of EL support) the student should have; it will be listed in this area.
The "Student English Language Proficiency Needs" assessment information on the second page will always include the student’s most recent English language proficiency test results, and may also include ELP test results from previous years. The current screening test that a student takes to determine EL program eligibility is called the WIDA Screener (or WIDA MODEL for kindergarteners). This assessment is administered by a trained EL teacher, and takes from 30 minutes to 2 hours to give, depending on the grade level and English proficiency level of the student. To qualify for the EL program, the student’s WIDA Screener/MODEL score must be less than a 5.0 on a scale of 1-6 (with 1 being newcomer proficiency and 6 being on par with native English speaking students). Students who score a 5.0 or higher on the WIDA Screener/MODEL “screen out” of the program and are not eligible for services from the English learner program. WIDA Screener/MODEL scores are recorded whether or not the student qualifies for the EL program, so the teacher assigned to your school can tell you if a student has already taken the test and screened out.
The ACCESS 2.0 test is the annual test of English language proficiency required of all English learners in North Dakota. Results are also scored on a scale of 1-6. The only way a student can exit the EL program is to score a 5.0 or higher on this annual test. In addition, there can be no sub-scores lower than a 3.5 if a student is to exit the program.
The sub-scores show a student’s proficiency in each of the four domains of language: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. A student’s sub-scores can provide a lot of information about where the student’s strengths and challenges are. For instance, a student may have an overall score of 3.2 (intermediate/developing English proficiency) but a 1.7 (newcomer/beginning) in writing. In other words, it’s best to look at ALL the scores, not just the composite score, when determining what supports an EL student may need.
A new section has been added to the ILP this year to indicate whether the student is on track to exit the EL program within the timeframe allotted by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. Both the current year's growth and the long-term growth of the EL student will be analyzed to show how the student is progressing toward full English language proficiency.
Each individual English learner also has differentiated goals on the ILP which are set according to the student’s English language proficiency level. We use the WiDA CAN-DO descriptors and the English Language Development Standards/BPS EL Program WILL statements to determine appropriate goals and objectives for individual students. (See the WILL statements in the Classroom Teacher Newcomer Survival Kit section of this web page.)
The third page of the ILP has several sections. The Related Services portion should indicate any other services/interventions/remedial programs in which the student is currently participating.
In terms of the EL Program Model and Service Minutes, there are several types of programs that are acceptable for use in North Dakota. Services for elementary EL students that are provided in the classroom by an EL teacher or aide are called push-in, while students who are taken out of the mainstream classroom for EL instruction by the EL teacher are enrolled in a pull-out model. At the middle and high school level, English learners in Bismarck are often enrolled in content-based English language development (ELD) classes, where English is taught through the medium of another subject, such as science, math, or social studies.
Service minutes are based on the student’s English language proficiency score, the unique needs of the student, and program staffing. A session with the EL teacher at the elementary school level is approximately 30 minutes, and varies from 1-5 times per week; while at the middle and high school level, it is about 50 minutes (the length of a typical class period). Newcomer students might have many service minutes every day, while students in the 3s and 4s will likely have fewer service minutes.
Appropriate Instructional Strategies vary based upon the student’s unique needs and English language proficiency score. These are things that you, as the mainstream teacher, can do to support your EL student. And while you may not be able to personally provide primary language support (in the student’s native language), you can do simple things like print your notes on the board rather than use cursive writing. This is a huge issue for many of our secondary-level English learners. If small group instruction is checked, utilize it whenever possible to make your EL students (some of whom might still be in their silent period) feel more comfortable participating. Grouping EL students who speak the same language together can be helpful, particularly if they are expected to work on a project together that’s going to require out of classroom time.
"Simplifying linguistic complexity" sounds like a complicated process, but it really means using a simple Subject-Verb-Object pattern and general vocabulary in the sentences you speak, the notes you give, and the tests you administer. For example, consider these lines from an on-line dictionary:
The term ecosystem was coined in 1935, though ecosystems have been around as long as living things. Eco is a spin-off from the word ecology and describes anything having to do with the environment and our relationship to it.
And here is what the above sentence might look like when it is simplified for ELLs:
People made the word ecosystem in 1935. The first part of the word, eco, comes from the word ecology. Ecology means living things and their environments.
The EL teacher usually will not indicate on the plan that all tests and quizzes must be read aloud to the student, for the simple reason that the itinerant EL teachers are often not in the classroom when a test or quiz is given. However, there are translator programs that can convert your test to a student’s native language, and that same program can often read the test aloud to the EL student. The test results then can more accurately show you if your student has mastered the content, even if he or she does not yet have the English language proficiency to demonstrate that mastery in a second language.
When teachers are in a hurry to create a test, they often don’t think about going to the extra work of adding visual support. However, it can be very helpful. A chart, diagram, photo, or other visual that has been used to clarify the lesson can be repeated in the assessment. Photos showing the meanings of prioritized words (instead of cartoon-like clip art) are especially helpful.
Probably the LEAST helpful accommodation for an EL student is eliminating one of the answer choices on a multiple-choice test. This is what many teachers call the “modified” version of their test. A well-written, linguistically modified/simplified exam often eliminates the need to limit the EL student’s choices. And speaking as a former high school teacher who has created lots of assessments in my 20 years of teaching high school English, a teacher who produces one regular and one modified version of a test is not really meeting the differentiated needs addressed in a student’s “individualized” education plan (IEP) or “individualized” language plan (ILP).
The key word here is “individualized.” One size does not fit all. All EL students are different. They come from different countries, speak different languages at their own individual proficiency levels, and have their own unique English language usage challenges, some of which may be related to their first language. For instance, English is an S-V-O language (subject-verb-object order). But there are other languages that do not use this order. Tagalog uses a V-S-O pattern, so where an English speaker might say, “I like the teacher,” a speaker from the Philippines would actually say something more like, “Like I the teacher.” It’s helpful if you, as the teacher, do a bit of research into your students’ home language so you can see what sentence-forming rules the student might be extending into English that cause him or her to produce what we would consider “errors.”
Appropriate Instructional and Assessment Supports are things that are allowable for the student in order to be able to access the content while easing the language load. For example, EL students can be so busy trying to copy notes accurately from the board that they can't focus on the topic at hand. Allowing them to view a copy of your lecture notes after the lesson helps them to concentrate on the material being taught instead of their penmanship skills.
Finally, Specific Assessment Supports correlate to the standardized tests that EL students will be taking throughout their educational careers. Certain supports are allowable on the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0, the NWEA (MAP), the NDSA, the NAEP, and ultimately, the ACT. Any allowable supports chosen for the student on these assessments will be marked in this section.
We always encourage parents to be part of the ILP-writing process; their signature on the last page indicates that they have gone over the ILP with the EL teacher and understand their child's plan. The ILP is a working document and can be amended any time the team feels that changes in programming or supports are necessary.