English Language Learners (ELL)

Philosophy/Vision

The Issaquah School District uses an acceleration model that provides ELL students with powerful learning experiences that stress complex, engaging activities and direct teaching of the English language. Language and skill development is accelerated, so students can meet high standards in ALL academic areas. 

The Washington State English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPs) provide learning targets for teachers as they help the ELL students learn English.

More than 1,000 students receive ELL services in the Issaquah School District. These students represent 65 different cultures and language groups. The most common are Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese (2015 data).

General Information/FAQ's

How do students qualify for ELL services?

Students must meet eligibility requirements to qualify for ELL services. Eligibility is determined by the Washington English Language Proficiency Assessment (WELPA). There are four levels of English language development determined by the WELPA. You will receive a letter reporting the results of this test. If your student is Level 1, 2 or 3, s/he is eligible for active ELL services.

  • Level 1 - Beginning/Advanced Beginning. Your student will be eligible for ELL services.
  • Level 2 - Intermediate. Your student will be eligible for ELL services.
  • Level 3 - Advanced. Your student will be eligible for ELL services.
  • Level 4 - Transitional. Your student will not be eligible for ELL services, but will qualify for extra academic support if needed for two years after transitioning from active ELL services.

Update: A new state ELL test will replace the WELPA in February/March 2016.

Information about the new ELPA21 annual test:

From WELPA to ELPA21: A New Annual English Language Learner (ELL) Test
What: ELPA21 (English Language Proficiency Test for the 21st Century) 
When: February 2-March 11
Who: All active ELL students Levels 1-3, all waived ELL students, and any Native American students who qualify for extra language support
What you can expect: Students will take four test domains: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. The test will be entirely online using the same test engine as Smarter Balanced. (There will also be a short paper-and-pencil Writing section for Kinder and Grade 1 students.) Each test section should take an hour or less. Your building’s ELL teachers will proctor the test. See your school’s ELL teacher for more information about when the test will be given at your school. 
Why: The results of this required annual state test will help teachers and parents understand how ELL students are learning English, and what other supports they need. Parents will receive a score report in the mail after the test is completed. 

To see a Family Guide to ELPA21 (in English and Spanish), click here:
http://www.k12.wa.us/ELPA21/Timeline.aspx

To see sample test items, use Google Chrome and the following web address:
http://www.elpa21.org/assessment-system/sample-items

How often will students be tested?

All ELL students will be re-tested on the annual ELL assessment each February or March. Scores are sent home from the district office after testing scores are received from OSPI. 

If they qualify for ELL services, what kind of help will they receive?
Students will not be removed from their classroom or change schools. They will receive services in their school.

Elementary ELL model: The “Supportive Mainstream" model is generally used in our elementary schools. In this model, students typically spend their day in a regular classroom. Many of the classroom and support teachers are trained in Project GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design). The ELL program employs certificated teachers and educational assistants to support the ELL student both in the classroom and in a pull-out model, by reviewing, extending or expanding the content, as well as building student proficiency in academic language that will help them fully access core content. The ELL Program staff work with the students, their families and the classroom teachers providing the needed support. The ISD ELL Specialist provides oversight and training for all ELL staff each year. 

Middle School ELL model: In the middle school ELL program, a certificated teacher teaches the English Language Development class for ELL students. This class works to build student proficiency in academic language, helping students access the core curriculum throughout the rest of their day. These classes focus on oral language development, explicit instruction in the structure of the English language, and academic language development through reading, writing, speaking, and listening. They may also support the student in their core classroom work. Some middle schools also provide after-school support for ELL students. The ISD ELL Specialist provides oversight and training for all ELL staff each year. 

High School ELL model: In the high school ELL program, a certificated teacher teaches an English Language Development class for ELL students. This class works to build student proficiency in academic language helping students access the core curriculum throughout the rest of their day. These classes focus on oral language development, explicit instruction in the structure of the English language, and academic language development through reading, writing, speaking, and listening. They may also support the student in their core classroom work. Some high schools also provide after-school support so that students can receive extra help with academics and language learning. The ISD ELL Specialist provides oversight and training for all ELL staff each year. 

How can I request an interpreter?

You may request an interpreter to help you communicate either over the phone or during face-to-face conferences. The interpreter can be requested by a parent or by an ISD staff member. If you are a staff member, please talk to your school secretary about the procedure. If you are a parent, please let your child's teacher know if you would like to use an interpreter, and she or he will make arrangements.

Resources

Resources for families - in both English and Spanish: Colorin' Colorado
  • Translated documents in many languages: Center for Improvement of Student Learning
    • Understanding the Public School System
    • Graduation Requirements
    • Learning Goals K-10
    • State Testing
    • And more
  • Washington State ELL Report to the Legislature
  • ESL classes for adults: King County Library System, Bellevue College ESL classes, Hopelink English for Work adult classes, and Renton Technical College adult classes
  • ELL contacts