Special Education » English as a Second Language

English as a Second Language




Northern Cambria School District

English as a Second Language Policy and Program Guidelines

It is the policy of the Northern Cambria School District to provide all students an equal and quality education, including those who are learning English as a Second Language (ESL). The Northern Cambria School District will provide appropriate assistance, support, and intensive experience in English to Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Non-English Proficient (NEP) students which will enable them to become successful in: the regular education classroom, the school environment, the community at large, and the new culture.

  1. Program Goals and Objectives


Educational Theory and Approach

All students of the Northern Cambria School District who (1) first acquire a language other than English, or (2) come from a home where a language other than English is spoken, or (3) who speak with peers in a language other than English, will be eligible for ESL services as described below. This instruction will take place in the intensive ESL classroom, sheltered ESL content classes, and/or the mainstream classroom with supportive services. These are recognized as sound educational models in the ESL curriculum. Educational practices in the ESL classroom mirror approaches used throughout the district in the mainstream classroom.

Plan of Action

  1. In the ESL class, English will be presented as the language of instruction in a language intensive setting. Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) as well as Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CLAP) will be developed. At the secondary level, the ESL class will be taken in place of the regular English class and students will receive English credit for successful completion.


  1. In the content classes, ESL students will participate to the level of their English proficiency with adaptations and modifications made by the mainstream teacher with the ESL teacher acting as a resource.


Educational Goals

The mission of the ESL Program will be met by the following goals:

  1. Students will be provided with quality instruction in all components of ESL instruction: listening, speaking, writing and critical thinking.
  2. Students’ English competencies in the five skill areas mentioned above will be developed to ensure that students can ultimately function independently in the mainstream classroom, school environment, and the community at large.
  3. Mainstream classroom teachers and other school personnel will be assisted in addressing the special needs of NEP and LEP students.
  4. Communication with parents and community will be facilitated regarding the student’s educational program enabling him/her to adjust to the secondary language, the school system and the culture.


2. Student and Parent Orientation Procedures


The district will make every attempt to inform language-minority parents of all school matters of which other parents are notified. Written notices will be translated by district translators hired by the district. Interpreters will be provided for parent conferences, as needed. Each additional building’s notices are to be translated as required. Every attempt will be made to ensure that communication is carried out in the home language. The district will maintain a list of all staff or community contacts who are able to act as translators or interpreters. An orientation program will be held prior to the beginning of this school year for parents of ESL students.

3. Identification and Placement

Identification and Assessment of PHOLTE Students

(PHOTE- Primary Home Language Other Than English)

Upon entrance into the Northern Cambria School District, all students will be given a Home Language Survey (HLS) to be completed by a parent or guardian at the time of registration (Appendix A-HLS). The school Guidance Department will be responsible for distributing and collecting the HLS during the enrollment process.

Based on the HLS, if the answers to questions 1, or 3, or 5 are other than English, the guidance personnel will forward a copy to the principal and put the original in the student’s cumulative folder. The student now has been identified as a PHLOTE student. Parents/guardians of the students will then receive written notification that their child will be administered an English proficiency test (Appendix B- Notification of English Proficiency Testing). The IDEA Proficiency Tests, a standardized test published by Ballard and Tighe, will be used to assess the PHLOTE student’s proficiency in speaking, understanding, reading and writing English. The oral, reading, and writing components of the IDEA Proficiency Tests are grade specific. The IDEA Proficiency tests will be administered and scored by the ESL teachers.

According to results of the IDEA tests, the student will be identified as either Non-English Proficient (NEP), Limited English Proficient (LEP), or Fluent English Proficient (FEP). The ESL teacher will place the student in the ESL program if he/she meets the district’s ESL entrance criteria (Appendix C – ESL Entrance/Exit Criteria). Parents/guardians will receive written notification whether their child is eligible or ineligible for ESL service (Appendix D-Notification of Enrollment in ESL Program and Appendix E- Notification of Ineligibility in ESL Program).

Identification and assessment of PHLOTE students will be completed within three days of registration.

Documentation of the language assessment results and placement determination will be maintained in the student’s cumulative folder by the ESL teacher/guidance department. Each year documentation of ESL services received by each student will be updated to ensure continuity of and access to this information (Appendix F- Documentation of ESL student Services for Cumulative Files). Additionally, a list of PHLOTE students and their placements will be devised by the ESL teacher/guidance office and disseminated to all staff in each building (Appendix G-PHLOTE student status).

Exiting ESL Students

The IDEA Language Proficiency Tests are used to assess ESL students for exiting purposes. The instrument is used to assess the following areas: speaking, understanding, reading, and writing in English. These tests will be administered and scored by an ESL teacher. Other criteria used in making the exiting decision include a grade of C/2 or better in content area, mainstream teacher recommendation through observation, and parental/guardian and administrative agreement.The final exiting decision is made collaboratively with the ESL teacher, the mainstream teacher (s), administrator, and the student’s parents/guardian. An ESL student may exit the program at any time during the course of the year once the criteria are met. Documentation of all existing decisions and assessments will be located in the student’s cumulative folder.

A student who has exited the ESL program will be monitored formally for at least two full school years. The ESL teacher or guidance office will be responsible for monitoring the ESL student. Student monitoring will occur formally at the end of each marking period and informally throughout the school year. Monitoring will consist of the following measures of student progress: grades, test scores, student performance, and teacher evaluations. If monitoring reveals continued limited English proficiency, non-remedial academic deficits, or other indicators that the student was exited too soon, the ESL teacher will meet with the regular classroom teacher and/or other teachers to reevaluate the student’s needs. A plan of action will be formulated resulting in: (a) remaining in the mainstream classroom with adaptations and modifications, (b) the student receiving additional academic support services, or (c) returning to the ESL program. This information will be maintained in the student’s cumulative file.

Prior to entering the mainstream classroom, the ESL teacher will meet with the mainstream teacher to discuss the student’s prior academic history and to establish proper expectations for the student. The ESL teacher will serve as a resource to the mainstream teacher on ways to adapt and modify material and instruction to accommodate the ESL student.

4. Instructional Program

Program Design

ESL instruction will be offered daily to all qualified students. Due to scheduling and individual building constraints, ESL instructional time may be slightly different in each building. On the average, a NEP student will receive ESL services two to three hours per day. A LEP student will be seen one to two hours per day. The maximum daily hours for instruction is three hours for both NEP and LEP students. A FEP student (exited from the program) may receive other educational support services. The NEP, LEP, and FEP classifications are determined by the IDEA Language Proficiency Test.

For the purpose of instruction in ESL, students may be grouped according to language proficiency levels. Or, in situations when there are too few students, they may be grouped across grade levels, never having more than a three-year grade span. Instuction will always be age and grade appropriate.

At the beginning of each school year, all staff in each building will be informed of PHLOTE students and those who qualify for ESL services. This will be accomplished through a written list of students, individual teacher contacts, and departmental and team meetings and will be an ongoing process throughout the course of the year.

At the elementary level (k-5), all ESL students will receive art, music, and physical education instruction with their mainstream peers. Each ESL student will be placed in a mainstream homeroom. The students also eat lunch and participate in recess with her/his mainstream peers. Additional activities, such as after school sports, chorus, instrumental groups, remembrance book, committees, etc., will be available for participation by all students, including ESL students. ESL students are to be included in all homeroom activities and projects such as plays, field trips, or other events.

Elementary students will receive ESL services through a pull-out program in reading and language arts. Instruction in math, science, health, and social students will be in the mainstream classroom. The ESL teacher or aide may serve as a resource for the mainstream teacher. Instruction in these content areas will be modified and adapted to the English linguistic ability of the ESL student.

At the middle school level (6-8), students will receive art, music, industrial arts, home economics, physical education and keyboarding with their mainstream peers. Instruction in the content areas such as science, math, social studies, and health will be modified and adapted to the English linguistic ability of the ESL student. This is done by the mainstream teacher with the ESL teacher or an aide serving as a resource. As with all levels in the district, middle school ESL students will be given the opportunity to participate in all school-sponsored activities, clubs, extra-curricular activities, etc.

At the high school level (9-12), all ESL students have the opportunity to receive art, music, home economics, foreign language, and physical education courses either as a requirement or an elective with their mainstream peers. Furthermore, Sheltered-ESL classes are available as needed to NEP and LEP students in several disciplines.

All ESL students are given the opportunity to attend the vocational-technical school with their mainstream peers. Additional activities such as chorus, band, clubs, and all extra-curricular activities are available to ESL students.

Within the school day, ESL students at the high school are assigned specific classes with the ESL teacher based on their language proficiency. Remaining periods are filled with electives with mainstream peers. Instruction in these electives is modified and adapted to accommodate the English linguistic capabilities of the ESL student.

Placement in sheltered classes, content-based ESL, or mainstream classes is based on the results of the IDEA Language Proficiency Tests. NEP students are served by the ESL teacher through content-based ESL instruction; LEP students are served by sheltered classroom teachers.

The ESL students in the Northern Cambria School District are not denied participation in any school-sponsored activity for any reason. The district mandates modifications and adaptations of instruction for all ESL students in the mainstream classroom. All services are provided in the least segregative manner. Students in the ESL program will be integrated with the general education population whenever possible.

In addition, Northern Cambria School District mandates that instructional materials for ESL students are: age and grade appropriate, sufficient in quality, and comparable in quantity and quality to those provided on non-ESL students. Materials are ordered for each individual building on a yearly basis. Furthermore, the ESL programs are equipped with technology comparable in quality and quantity to that of non-ESL students.

Northern Cambria School District provides its ESL programs in facilities that are comparable to those provided to non-ESL students in size and capabilities. Where space is limited, the district explores options based on current resources.

5. Student Participation in Related and Extracurricular Activities

As stated above, the ESL students in the Northern Cambria School District will not be denied participation in any school-related activity for any reason. ESL students will receive equal access to all district special opportunity programs. These include, but are not limited to, the following: Title I, gifted support and vocational education. Furthermore, ESL students will have equal opportunity to participate in all extracurricular and non-extracurricular activities that are available to other students. The district ensures that selection and/or application process for special opportunity programs will not rely solely on measures of English language proficiency. All district staff is familiar with procedures to recommend a student of special opportunity programs and if necessary, in their native language.

Northern Cambria School District seeks to provide language assistance necessary for effective participation by the ESL student in these programs. Examples of this type of assistance may include tutoring and use of native language materials.

To be admitted into these special opportunity programs, ESL students will follow the district procedures, which apply to all students. However, when the instruments used for placement into these programs are inappropriate because of a student’s limited English

Proficiency, other alternative criteria must be used to ensure that an ESL student has an equal opportunity to participate in the program.

  1. Pupil Personnel Services


All ESL students in the Northern Cambria School District will have access to the same counseling services as their mainstream peers. If necessary, counseling services will be provided in the student’s native language. Students will have access to the school’s Student Assistance Program (SAP).

Special Education and Other Related Services

The Northern Cambria School District does not place any student in a special education program based on his/her limited English proficiency. The guidelines and time frames for special education are the same for both ESL and non-ESL students, with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

In the cases of ESL students, a bilingual/bicultural psychologist or qualified district psychologist administers the testing instructions. Additionally, the tests are administered in English and/or the student’s native language, depending on the dominant language of the student. Student referrals are made in collaboration with the ESL teacher and the mainstream teacher(s). All special education documents are sent home in the parent’s native language.

Parents are notified of the results of the Comprehensive Evaluation Report (CER) in their native language. The CER indicates the student’s level of English and native language proficiency based on these results. When an ESL student has been determined to need special education instruction, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is written for that student.

The services which will address the student’s language needs and the language of instruction which is appropriate to meet the student’s needs are found in the IEP. The multidisciplinary team, which develops the IEP consists of the ESL teacher, the special education teacher, parent/guardian, counselor, mainstream teacher, and the bilingual/bicultural psychologist or district psychologist. At the meeting to develop the IEP, translators are present to assist the parents/guardian in understanding the process as well as to enable the parents to have input in the IEP decision process.

ESL students identified as special education students continue to receive ESL program services in addition to the special education services. ESL instruction is given by the ESL teacher, and special education services are given by appropriately qualified special education teachers.

ESL students eligible for gifted support services will be assessed and placed according to the guidelines of Chapter 16 of the Pennsylvania Code. A bilingual/bicultural or district psychologist will administer the testing instrument. The gifted test will be administered in English or the student’s native language. A CER and an IEP will be developed in the same manner stated above for the special education student.

Finally, ESL students will receive access to Title I and vocational programs just as their mainstream peers.

  1. Staff Development Related to Program


The ESL teachers in the Northern Cambria School District will have training in second language methodology and techniques. Staff development will be supplied for Northern Cambria School District teachers in instructing sheltered ESL classes and for mainstream classes. These needs will be addressed by the district’s Act 48 Professional Staff Development and the ESL Committees.

8. Community Involvement

As with other elements of the district’s Strategic Plan, ESL program planning will be carried out by a committee of district administrators, teachers, parents, and students. The Superintendent will appoint a district administrator to chair the committee and serve as the District ESL Coordinator. The program will be evaluated and revised if needed by the committee on an annual basis. Every effort will be made to enlist local colleges, universities, community and church groups as resources for translators and ESL volunteer tutors.

Complaints of the ESL program will be submitted to the District ESL Coordinator. If necessary, the ESL Coordinator will inform the committee which will address the complaint and resolve it in an equitable and expedient manner. All complaints will be investigated first by the ESL Coordinator and then by the committee if the coordinator deems it necessary.

Communication with students’ homes will be carried out via mailing, telephone, and visits. ESL parents will receive the same correspondences as parents of mainstream students.

They will also receive invitations to the annual orientation meeting and meetings with the ESL teacher. When no response is received, a phone call or home visit will be made. Every effort will be made to conduct communications in the parents’ home language.

  1. Program Evaluation Procedures

At the end of each school year the district will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of its ESL program. The formal evaluation will examine and make recommendations regarding the following:

(a)Program effectiveness with respect to the identification, assessment process, exiting, monitoring, staffing, parental notifications, and adequacy of facilities and instructional materials.

(b)The rate of students’ progress towards full proficiency in English.

(c)Whether the students in the ESL program are keeping up with their peers in other curriculum areas.

(d)Whether students in the ESL program are able to participate successful in the school’s full curriculum, as determined by such measures as graduation rates, scholastic achievement, awards and honors, as well as in sports and other extracurricular activities.

(e)A comparison of standardized test scores of exited students to the scores of non-LED students.

(f)Whether students in the ESL program have access to all the district’s programs, including vocational education and special education.

(g)Whether students in the ESL program are being retained in grade or are dropping out at rates similar to those of their non-IEP peers.

If you have further questions after reading the English as a Second Language Guidelines, please contact the Director of Special Education at 948-2666.