English-Learners' Criteria Ratified

New standards will guide students at Modesto schools

Non-English speaking students in Modesto now have a clearly lit path to follow while learning the language.

The Modesto City Schools board unanimously voted this week to approve new kindergarten- through sixth-grade English Language Development standards. The new requirements are in response to the state Department of Education’s new English-learner guidelines released in July 1999.

The district’s general English Language Arts standards, adopted in 1997, included a plan for English learners. But those requirements had to be revised to reflect the state’s new dictate. A committee of teachers and administrators has worked since August to create the district’s plan.

“The ELD standards will help students get on the freeway to English Language Arts success,” said Olivia Sosa, administrator with the special projects/English learner programs. “This provides them a quick on-ramp. Before, students would get on, but they would only travel 20 to 25 miles per hour, so they would never catch up.”

Some 4,000 kindergarten- through sixth-grade students in the district are classified as English learners in sheltered or bilingual classes. The new standards chart their progress through five language levels: beginning, early intermediate, intermediate, early advanced and advanced.

In each language level, students must master certain skills in listening/speaking, reading and writing. Once a student has finished all the steps, he or she should be fluent and ready to switch to general English classes.

The new standards will be phased in over the next two years. Kindergarten- through second-grade teachers will be trained next school year and third- to sixth-grade teachers the next year.

Staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at 578-2284 or at [email protected]



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