Options under 227 explored

Parents will have an opportunity to make choices for children

Parents of Fullerton School District students with limited English skills will learn Oct. 8 about options for their children making the transition into English-only instruction.

To comply with Proposition 227, trustees on Tuesday approved a policy that allows parents whose children have been in school at least 30 days, to select or waive specific programs.

Pat Puleo, director of support services, said assessment forms will be sent to parents by Oct. 8.

She also reported that the Orange County Department of Education legal counsel has recommended the Proposition 227 terminology “overwhelmingly English” be defined as “at least 80 percent English and up to 20 percent primary (currently spoken) language.” She said this ensures instruction will be overwhelmingly in English, yet allow primary language explanations for non- and very-limited English speaking students.

Previously, bilingual programs in language arts and math were taught in a student’s primary language.

By the time parents receive the assessment forms, teachers will have determined if students should be placed in Sheltered English Immersion or English Language Mainstream classes for grades kindergarten through sixth, or English Language Development/Sheltered English Immersion or Sheltered Content for grades seven and eight.

If parents do not agree with teacher assessments, they may sign a waiver for their child to attend a Sheltered English Immersion, English Language Mainstream or Bilingual program.

Parents also have an option to place their children directly in the English-only program, but must take full responsibility for the decision.

Puleo said the district will not place second-language learners who are academically challenged in situations where they will begin their second year of instruction with a year’s academic deficit.

The district defines the transition programs as follows:

English-Only: Language Arts and all content subjects are taught in English; textbooks and instructional materials in English.

Sheltered English Immersion: Instruction, textbooks and instructional materials are overwhelmingly in English. Some primary language supplements used for clarification.

English-Language Mainstream: This adds formal English Language Arts instruction for those students who have reasonable literacy and oral proficiency in English. Class taught overwhelmingly in English with some primary language supplementary materials.

Bilingual instruction: This is for students who are native speakers of a language other than English, who do not have the academic background to participate in Sheltered English Immersion or English Language Mainstream classes. English language development provided daily.

ELD/Sheltered English Immersion: Students in the process of acquiring English use texts in English with some supplementary materials in the primary language. Students are grouped by like-language ability in multi-graded classes.

Sheltered Content: Students at the intermediate fluency level use curriculum identical to mainstream. However, teachers use methods designed for non-native English speakers to increase comprehensibility.

Board members Kim Guth and Marjorie Pogue asked for more time to digest the program, but Puleo said parents should receive the information at conferences held before the next FSD board meeting on Oct. 13.

“Teachers are embracing these programs with enthusiasm,” Puleo added.

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