English Language Learners (ELL)
Description of Program
Enrollment and Screening for English Proficiency
Upon enrollment in GCPS, all parents answer Language Background questions. When newly enrolled students have a primary or a home language other than English (PHLOTE), they are screened for proficiency in English, even if English is one of the languages they speak. The screening assessment used is the WIDA Model for Kindergarten students through the first semester of first grade, and the WIDA Screener for students in the second semester of first grade through twelfth grade.
Students who are not yet proficient are considered to be English Learners (ELs) and are eligible for language support services until they become proficient.
Elementary school students with a PHLOTE are screened at their local schools. Middle and high school students with a PHLOTE who are new to U.S. schools are screened at the International Newcomer Center (INC) in Lawrenceville. Parents are asked to call the INC at 678-985-5200 to make an appointment and to bring any school records with them. At the INC, International Student Advisors (ISAs) will interview the student and family about previous schooling, screen the student for English language proficiency and math skills, and make recommendations for course placement to help students learn English and grade level content as quickly as possible.
Programs for EL Students
GCPS provides EL students with language assistance tailored to their individual English language development needs through a variety of research-based models. All schools are staffed with English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) endorsed or certified teachers. English learners may receive direct instruction from an ESOL teacher working with the teacher in the regular classroom, instructional support in the regular classroom provided by a teacher who holds certification in the academic content and ESOL, instruction through a separate ESOL class taught by the ESOL teacher, support from the regular classroom teacher with consultation from the ESOL teacher, or a combination of services.
Priority is given to meeting the needs of students in the regular classroom while ensuring that students develop strong literacy skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English. Having strong literacy in English provides a firm foundation for long-term academic achievement in language arts, math, science, social studies, career and technical subjects, fine arts, and health and physical education. ESOL instruction also introduces ELs to key American cultural concepts needed both for success in school and civic engagement. Students are also encouraged to value and draw upon their first language and culture to support their academic success.
The EL Programs Office also provides support and professional learning for regular classroom teachers, so that they can actively engage their EL students in learning grade level academic language, content, and skills.
Assessing Progress toward and Attainment of Proficiency
EL students’ level of proficiency in English is assessed every year to be sure they are making progress toward proficiency in social, instructional, and academic English. The assessment that students take is called the ACCESS for ELLs. It checks their proficiency level in listening, speaking, reading and writing in English. When they attain full proficiency and are prepared for academic language tasks across the content areas of language arts, math, science and social studies, they exit language support services. Students are then actively monitored for a two- to four-year period to assure that they successfully transition to learning in the regular classroom without language support.