EL A-G efforts press forward




Department working against setbacks of district transition

The percentage of English Language Learners completing UC A-G course requirements from the 2007-2008 school year to the 2013-2014 school year dropped roughly 5 percent. During that same time, socioeconomically disadvantaged students jumped from a 23 percent completion rate to a 58 percent completion rate, and the rate for all students jumped nearly 30 percent.

According to Specifically Designed Academic Instruction in English teacher Curt Hobbs, this drop followed soon after the EL program faced a shift at the district level. Rather than having one consolidated ELD program throughout the district, each site became responsible for their individual programs.

“As we transitioned our style of teaching ELD to newer programs, there were obviously some setbacks,” Hobbs said. “When you say every school is responsible for their EL students, there is room for growth and there was growing pains.”

Though the EL department has not yet received any data for the current passing rates of their students, EL department coordinator KC Worden believes that these numbers may have risen from their fall in 2014.

Hobbs hopes that greater devotion amongst staff is a cause for any possible growth. He emphasizes the importance of pushing not only students, but teachers.

“We have the buy-in of our staff,” Hobbs said. “There was a time where some teachers thought that if an EL student wasn’t getting reclassified it was them not doing what they needed to do, but really what’s happening in the EL class is only one piece of it. The staff is working together as a team. Communication has been the biggest improvement.”

EL counselor Nancy Munoz says she continues to try and prepare EL students for a secondary education, whether they plan to pursue it or not. She hopes ‘raising the bar,’ will push more students to complete A-G requirements.

“We raised the bar and expectations because they weren’t always ready for the rigor of community college or a four-year college,” Munoz said. “[Before], we were not setting them up for success.”

Before the drop in completion, EL students took an EL class that also satisfied a language arts A-G requirement. This is no longer the case, and students must take an additional A-G language class along with SDAIE.

The SDAIE class is 45 minutes of EL instruction, and the rest of the class period to support EL students in their other classes and help students fulfill A-G requirements.

“We bring in tutors that will help our students in other classes with a language focus, [the problem] could be math fluency or it could be not knowing what perpendicular means,” Hobbs said.

Both Worden and Munoz find that the large range of proficiencies of EL students causes problems in their other classes on top of English. Worden finds that most EL students struggle in math, similarly to mainstream students.

Worden finds SDAIE successful and has lead to most EL students in her class having a C or better in English.

“SDAIE is a lab class to help support them in their English classes,” Worden said. “We need to be doing it year round, but I think all of our students are passing English.”

Within the SDAIE class, a newly implemented intervention effort targets EL students who have below a 2.0 gpa and are not on track to complete A-G requirements.

“We expect the student to take care of [their make-up work] one way or another whether in class time with tutors or communicating with teachers or going to after school tutoring,” Hobbs said. “They are expected to get that work done and if they’re not completing that they are referred to Saturday school.”

Munoz also attributes the drop in completion to whether a student decides on secondary education for their future. According to Munoz, counselors will not try to force UC A-G standards on students if they have decided against college to prevent students from continually failing classes and falling further behind. However, Munoz looks to keep students’ options open for as long as possible.

“Students can’t keep retaking for A-G, plans can change due to students struggling,” Munoz said. “Students have to take SDAIE English which helps them in CP classes.”

According to Worden, other factors including home life, socioeconomic problems and parent support could affect EL student’s performances.

“I think with EL you have language barriers, their home language might be different than their school language, and sometimes you have socioeconomic barriers,” Worden said. “Some kids not thinking about their future and not having a growth mindset is bad and we want to make them see what they can do.”