Throughout the student body, there are dozens of heritage languages represented at Eagle Ridge Academy. The English Learner (EL) Program at Eagle Ridge is designed to ensure that all students develop the English language skills they need to succeed in the classroom, while also encouraging each and every EL student to be proud of their heritage language.
EL students receive language-based support that is tied directly to the grade-level curriculum. Different service models are used, depending on student need. Eagle Ridge Academy offers EL services in the form of push-in instruction, pull-out groups, one-on-one instruction, and sheltered classrooms. Decisions are made based on which model is most appropriate for a student’s English proficiency goals.
For a complete description of the EL program at ERA, or for questions that are not answered here, please contact one of our EL teachers, Cathy Lengvenis or Holly Strand.
Cathy Lengvenis, K-4 EL teacher firstname.lastname@example.org
Holly Strand, 5-12 EL teacher email@example.com
Frequently Asked Questions about the EL Program at Eagle Ridge Academy
All families in Minnesota complete a Language Survey as part of the enrollment process. The MN Language Survey identifies which students need to be evaluated to determine if they qualify for EL services.
A student will be screened for EL services if the MN Language Survey indicates that he or she:
- Speaks a language other than English
- First learned to speak a language other than English
- Lives in a home in which a language other than English is spoken
Incoming kindergartners are screened with an assessment called the WIDA MODEL. Older students are screened using an assessment called the WIDA Screener.
Your student will be entered into our EL program. You will receive a letter with your student’s assessment results, and the details of our plan to help your student develop the English skills necessary for school.
You have the right to refuse EL services for your child. Our hope is that we will be able to help you see the value in the EL services that we provide, but you have the right to decline.
Language development is rich and complex. If your child has learned English while at the same time learning or being exposed to other languages, his or her English proficiency will have developed differently from that of most native English speakers. In many cases, this means that a child will benefit from extra support with English language development, especially when it comes to vocabulary and grammar.
There are four separate domains of language proficiency: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. It is common for a student to have different strengths in different domains. For example, a student might speak English well, but need support with reading and writing. A student could be a strong reader but still struggle with writing. Some students can understand English well, but have trouble finding the words when they speak. The EL program at ERA is designed to provide support to each student in the domain(s) that need support.
Academic English is very different from social English. Social English is the language needed for basic communication. Academic English is the language needed for success in school. Academic English is what is needed to understand a teacher’s lesson, to be able to read independently, to be able to understand more complex texts, and to be able to write well.
It takes most students about two years to acquire the English skills they need for conversation, and for most students this will happen without extra help. However, research indicates that it takes most students five to seven years to acquire the English skills needed for academic purposes, and most students will not achieve this without receiving specialized support.
This can vary greatly from individual to individual, but many students are able to exit the EL program within three years.
By federal law, all EL students are assessed once a year to measure English proficiency development. In Minnesota, the yearly assessment is called the ACCESS test. It is a standardized test that assesses students in each domain of language proficiency: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. Students receive a score for each domain, as well as an overall composite score.
If a student has an overall composite score of at least 4.5 and three out of four domain scores of at least 3.5, that student has met the ACCESS proficiency score and can be exited from the EL program.
When a student is exited from EL, he or she will be monitored for the next two school years. This means that the EL teacher will be in communication with the student’s teachers, to make sure that the student is not having language-based difficulties. If a student seems to be having language-based trouble, it is possible for EL services to be continued or restarted.