ELL Program Programming
Whitewater Unified School District has a transitional ELL program for Grades K-12.
Students grades K-12 are tested annually to determine their ability to read, write, speak, and listen in English. The test, called the ACCESS test, scores the students from Levels 1 (no English) to Level 6 (Fully English Proficient).
The K-5 students are immersed in to the regular content area curriculum and are supported by ESL and Bilingual Teachers in inclusionary support or occasionally self-contained or pull out models for ACCESS Levels 1 and 2. Students at the high school and middle school are immersed into regular content area curriculum and are supported by a Bilingual Teacher and bilingual aides. The middle and high schools also have bilingual aides available to help students during their study hall periods and in some cases, during a testing situation, a student may be sent to them during a class. Students are heavily supported at Levels 1, 2, and 3. At levels 4 and 5 students are fully immersed, monitored closely, and get one on one support only when needed. Levels 1 and 2 students have Sheltered English Instruction. At the high school, Level 3 students also receive specialized writing support. The districts philosophy is to fully include students in all classes, meaning students are pulled out of class as little as possible. More and more structured English Immersion classes are evolving in the district and Bilingual/ESL teachers are going into the regular education classroom to support ELLs as much as possible. The high school also offers the following specialized bilingual classes: Bilingual Algebra, Bilingual Geometry, Bilingual Composition I and II, Bilingual Skills, Bilingual Biology support, and ESL I and II.
The addition of a 4K program in 2007-2008 helped support students that are learning to speak English be more academically prepared for Kindergarten. There were 18 ELL students enrolled in the first year of this program. We anticipate having about the same number of ELL students in 4K in future years.
Students at the 6-12 grade levels are also supported by an after school tutoring program where language assistance is provided. Furthermore, an interpreter is provided for all parent teacher conferences, phone conversations home, and translations are made of school correspondence and the student handbook is also translated into Spanish.
Short-term education goals for ELL students are:
To make a successful social transition in the classroom setting
To understand classroom expectations
To acquire vital social and academic vocabulary skills
Long-term education goals for ELL students are:
To have our ELLs take the ACCESS test for measuring ELP levels annually
To attain grade-level proficiency in academics
To develop and value their first language and culture
To understand U.S. society and culture
To become socially successful in the school and community
To encourage post-secondary education for all ELL students
Bilingual/ELL program goals are:
To provide staff development in differentiation and effective instructional and assessment strategies
To increase coordination between Bilingual/ESL staff and mainstream classroom staff
To promote awareness and appreciation of diversity throughout the district
To promote home participation in education process
The program’s main objective is to support ELL student learning. Academic support is given in coordination with mainstream teachers and for a few students with Special Education teachers. Strong emphasis in the program is given to literacy, vocabulary, writing and core content area skills. Bilingual literacy/writing skills are encouraged as well as cultural awareness.
Parent involvement is a key goal of the Whitewater Unified School District. There is an active Latino parent group K-12. In addition, adult ESL classes are offered three nights a week during the school year.
Communications between school and home are translated, including verbal and written communications. At the bi-annual parent-teacher conferences translators are available. The ESL/Bilingual staff maintain frequent contact with families, keeping them abreast of upcoming opportunities for students and parents as well as information about academic and discipline related information about the students.
Also, parents are a key factor in student registration. Parents fill out a home language survey when new students enter the district and special Bilingual registration events are held for ELL families to inform families of the academic choices their children have in the Whitewater Unified School District.
Pupil to staff ratios are 280 students to 8 ELL/Bilingual staff, which is 1 staff to 35 students. This does not take into account that the ELL students are all mainstreamed and the ESL/Bilingual staff are providing support for the students within their mainstreamed classes. This ratio has changed for the significantly better as the district has added two fadditinal ull time Bilingual Certified Staff members to the Elementary Level in 2010. The new level of staffing will be one ESL and one Bilingual Certified staff member for Lincoln Elementary. Washington and Lakeview will share one ESL and one Bilingual Certified staff member. The middle School will continue to have one Bilingual Teacher and one Bilingual Aide, while the high school will continue to have one Bilingual Teacher and one Bilingual Aide.
ELL/Bilingual staff members coordinate will all staff members who work with ELLs to review academic and social progress on an on-going basis. ELL/Bilingual staff members provide academic and career counseling and help students access post-secondary options. ELL/Bilingual staff members maintain contact with students after graduation, offering counseling and academic support. ELL/Bilingual staff members coordinate with district superintendent, director of Pupil services, Director of ELL services, Special Education Coordinator, special education staff, guidance counselors, and principals of each school to review and discuss ELL students and program goals.
All ELL/Bilingual teachers have appropriate certification and all ELL aides are working towards ELL/Bilingual certification. A future goal of the school district is to encourage some regular education teachers to obtain ELL certification.
Staff development happens on an on-going basis. The district has provided many opportunities for ELL staff and all other staff to have significant professional development projects, district training, in-services, workshops, and meetings to train staff. Additionally, a connection with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater has provided many professional development opportunities in the area of ELL for district staff. Funding is also provided for Bilingual/ELL staff to attend the annual WITESOL conference, DPI meetings, and other conferences.
The school district does not have any bilingual counselors, but does provide translation services at all grade levels for ELL students and families. The district does have a bilingual social worker and bilingual administrator that provide many services to ELL families.