Perry Township has many non-English speakers with all the students that have come from across the world. Due to their limited understanding of the language, they mostly have trouble and a hard time in the classroom than normal students. However, they received extra help from teachers and the district.
According to the administrator for EL and Professional Development, Jane Pollard, the difficulty that the EL department faces is that there are so many students who are in need of help and that these students are in different levels. The challenging part is meeting all those in need. Perry Township works really hard for EL students so that they can learn the language and keep them growing in all of their content knowledge at the same time.
The goal with grading EL students is that they should be given a fair assessment of where they are in material minus any language problem that is preventing them. That is why teachers were told to not give grades to EL students unless teachers have evidence and can prove that the student can do it, according to Pollard.
“We believe they (EL students) haven’t shown me because they can’t yet,” Pollard said.
When students don’t have enough information for grades, that is called no grades because they don’t have enough information and knowledge to earn a grade, Pollard says. However, they have as bright a future as many other native speakers.
What EL students mostly struggle with is the class work on top of the language barrier. Pollard says teachers know what to expect from each level of students.
The EL department chair at Perry Meridian High School, Stephanie Kim, gave grades to EL Level 1 and 2 as she would to upper level. However, she didn’t have as great an expectation as she did on Level 3, 4 and 5 work.
When new students come, they were put in a newcomer class which they spend their morning classes in SHS and then come back to Perry Meridian High School in the afternoon where they all stay in one class, shelter class, says Kim. In the meantime, Kim mentioned that not all of Level 1 are in shelter class but were put in mainstream classes. Newcomers and shelter class are really helpful for EL students because that is good way of transition to going in the mainstream classes, according to Kim.
For EL Level 1, most of their grades depends on how the teachers modify the assignment for that student, but Kim says she never heard any student who received poor grades just because of the language barrier. Not coming to school and not turning in their homeworks are totally different story, says Kim.
Kim says one way to improve EL students knowledge and skills are to provide transportation especially when there is an extra help sessions for them. Many of the times students didn’t showed up just because they don’t have a ride. This is what the district should think about to do, according to Kim.
“… Their English may not be like at the very top at Level 6 but they’re still proficient enough to successful in the post secondary setting,” Kim said.