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Reporting ELL's Progress in Relation to National Standards to Parents

Fakaalofa lahi atu

Last week Elaine asked a very interesting question about reporting an ELL’s progress to parents, in relation to National Standards. You can read here whole letter here. In particular Elaine asked, are there any suggestions of how to help parents have a realistic perspective? Is there current research on the length of time it takes for ESOL students to reach their cohort? I want to thank Jane van der Zeyden and John Mccaffery who both shared their considerable knowledge with us on this topic. I am copying snippets from each of their letters and amalgamating them below as a summary of their ideas.

  1. Work with parents so that they understand that our National Standards are expectations for native speakers of English and therefore if their child is an English language learner we would expect (as should they) that their child will be well below or below for a significant period of time but that long term they are likely to meet the standard. Parent education about this, should precede the reports being issued. This could be in the form of information sharing sessions or in a written communication if necessary.
  2. ELLs are not a homogenous group and therefore the length of time they take to reach expected levels will differ greatly depending on a number of factors. The ELLP has some information about affective factors that impact on acquisition of English (p.6-8 Introductory booklet)
  3. Cummins work about the acquisition of BICS or playground language (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills) takes 2-3 years on average. CALP or language of learning (Cognitive Academic language Proficiency) taking 5-7 years (Cummins, 2001).
  4. To be able to manage the language demands of curriculum content areas, takes the average second language learner 5- 8 years if there is first language support and 10-12 years without such L1 support (Thomas and Collier, 1997, 2002 )
  5. This evidence on the way in which first language literacy can accelerate the acquisition of academic CALP English is why there is so much interest and growing commitment to continued L1 /HL language and literacy development. In other words students who come to NZ with high levels of L1/HL l school literacy from their own schooling system reach the highest levels of English literacy quickest. Consequently students who come very young or come with low or little L1 literacy struggle most and longest. A large number of international and local ESOL and bilingual experimental programmes show that providing concurrent L1 literacy support is very helpful in these situations.
  6. Jane shared that in some of the schools that she works with have developed a "Graduate Profile" for an ELL that enrols at school at 5 years of age with minimal English. Based on Cummins work they have targets to get these students to National Standard level or above by the time they leave at the end of Year 6. Some students will achieve this earlier but if they look as if they are not on track to do so the schools will ensure that a suitable intervention or support programme is provided to accelerate progress.

Questions to Reflect Upon

To think about this further I have a number of reflective questions to consider.  I know many of these will lead to further questions so please feel free to ask for further help and support.

1.Do you support parents to understand what the National Standards are and what they mean for new learners of English? ( i.e. that we expect their child to be well  below or below the National Standards for a significant period of time but that in long term they are likely to meet the standard. You can share the time needed to reach cohort expectations research). Do you educate parents prior to sending reports home?  Are you satisfied that they have understood the messages? See http://esolonline.tki.org.nz/ESOL-Online/Impact/Tracking-progress-and-reporting/Reporting for more information.

2.How else could you support parents to understand their child’s language progress and in relation to National Standards? How can you support the above messages in the parent interview process? Or in home-school partnership sessions? What more could your school be doing? Key document translations? etc

  1. Do you use ELLP as well as National Standard reporting to show language progress? Have you explained the ELLP shell diagram and the ELLP stages to parents in a way they can understand? (Recently several teachers shared their reporting templates see the September /October 2015 archives for ideas to redevelop what you currently do. You will need to enter username: eesollonline, password: mailinglist.) ESOL Online has further information on doing this see http://esolonline.tki.org.nz/ESOL-Online/Impact/Tracking-progress-and-reporting/National-Standards  .

4.Do you carefully monitor each ELL’s language learning progress on ELLP and put in place suitable language support or intervention programmes when they don’t seem to be making sufficient progress? Do you need a system like the graduate profile to do this? See http://esolonline.tki.org.nz/ESOL-Online/Impact/Tracking-progress-and-reporting/Tracking-learner-progress

5.Do you consider which assessment tool is the most appropriate to use when testing ELLs? Do you gather information using a number of tools, observations and interviews to determine what they know and can do? Do you consider using more appropriate cultural contexts when testing? See this page for further information http://esolonline.tki.org.nz/ESOL-Online/Impact/Assessment-processes-tools-and-resources

6.Are you doing enough to support your ELL’s continual literacy development of their first language (L1)/heritage language (HL)? How could your school better support L1 development whilst also supporting L2 English literacy development? (Also consider whether any out-of-school heritage language programmes are available in your area? You could advocate access into your school for heritage language classes) Do you use/have L1 or bilingual texts? Bilingual teacher aides who can support the learner or Bilingual classes available? Are could parents assist you in the classroom or at home to maintain their child’s first language? How could digital technology be used to support heritage languages in the classroom and at home?

7.Does your school provide adequate second language support and interventions for ELLs? Do they need strengthening? Are the teachers highly qualified and expert in the area of literacy and second language teaching? Are they well-resourced and funded with adequate time provided for the language support programme?   Is the success of the intervention or programme measured and monitored?

Community Round Up 

Last week I shared:

Michelle shared about Niuean language week . Does anyone have any school stories to share about what you did to celebrate this and the outcome for your Niuean students?  

  • Alana shared a video recording of guest speaker: David Riley from Tangaroa College speaking at their recent Light the Fire meeting in Auckland. You can see the video at this link https://vimeo.com/142427283 . In her email uoi will also find suggestions for using this as staff professional development. Some of the themes in his presentation include: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy & Curriculum; Building on your students' strengths; Knowing your learners; engaging Boys; reading for purpose; using sports to engage in learning; static Images; valuing competitiveness and role modelling.

Site Highlight

In your exploration of our ESOL Online site, have you found our Community section? As well as the sections where you can meet the ESOL Online team; subscribe/unsubscribe to our mailing lists; access the archive; and locate the monthly summary Newsletters, there are also tabs to access us via the Virtual Learning Network (VLN) and Twitter. Go on – take a peek!

New Monthly Newsletters

You may have noticed a change in the appearance of our new, smart Monthly Newsletters. We are excited to have moved to using MailChimp, which should allow more flexibility in what we can share. However, this system is a little fussy about email addresses, and some have had to be culled from our subscriber list. If you did not receive the last newsletter, please sign up here. If you are new to this community, it’s definitely worth spending some time reading through past newsletters as many useful links are included.

 To feleveia