Identification / Placement / Exiting of Students
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) regulations require that all schools determine the language(s) spoken in each student’s home in order to identify their specific language needs. This information is essential in order for schools to provide meaningful instruction for all students and is gathered through the use of a Home Language Survey (HLS), which is a required part of the school registration packet.
Every newly enrolled student whose HLS indicates that a language other than English is spoken at home must be screened for English language proficiency. Districts are required to use WIDA screening assessments. Currently, MPS uses the W-APT (WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test) but will soon be transitioning to the WIDA Screener (online and/or paper form). The screening process is conducted on an individual basis, with the language proficiency test administered by a licensed, experienced EL educator who has been trained to use the screening assessments.
A student who is identified as an English learner (EL) after a language screening assessment must be placed in an EL program to address his/her limited English proficiency so that the student can be provided the opportunity to participate meaningfully and equally in the district’s educational program (603 CMR 14.04). Once the results of the screening assessment are obtained, the EL staff and building-based administration or guidance department will work together to determine the appropriate placement of the student in the school setting and the appropriate level of ESL support. In general, the student will be placed in the appropriate class for his or her chronological age. DESE has established guidelines for the amount of English Language Development an EL student should receive based on his or her proficiency level. Parents will be informed promptly of final placement decisions through a Parent Notification letter. (These letters have been translated into our students’ home languages). A parent/guardian has the right to opt out of the EL program or request a waiver. He or she must meet with the EL Director to discuss the student’s placement and may sign an official opt-out form at that time.
If a student has interrupted or limited education prior to enrolling in MPS, additional assessments may be given in the student’s native language in order to determine levels of literacy and mathematics knowledge/skills.
Students remain in the EL program, receiving direct English language development (ELD) instruction and sheltered content instruction (SCI), until they demonstrate that they are able to do regular school work in English. Districts must annually assess EL’s language proficiency and academic achievement and consider other relevant data to determine whether students can perform ordinary classwork in English, and whether or not such students’ EL classification should be removed. Once a student demonstrates this ability, they are “reclassified” or “exited” from the EL program. The district must then monitor the student for four years, to ensure that he/she continues to make effective academic progress.