Overview of the ESOL Standards Englis h Language Performance Standards The State of Georgia is an official member of the WIDA Consortium and has adopted the WIDA English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards. WIDA, World Class Instructional Design and Assessment, is a multi-state consortium established through a federally funded Enhanced Assessment Grant. Under the direction of Dr. Margo Gottlieb and the Center for Applied Linguistics, WIDA has developed ELP Standards and an English language proficiency test known as ACCESS for ELLs (Accessing Comprehension and Communication in English State to State for English Language Learners). ACCESS for ELLs is the official assessment instrument for schools in Georgia to measure the English language proficiency of their English Language Learners (ELLs). The ACCESS test is based upon the WIDA ELP Standards which in turn inform ESOL curriculum and instruction. Significantly, these WIDA standards have been assigned to Georgia’s Performance Standards for language arts, ma thematics, social studies, and science. So defined, Georgia’s new WIDA Standards are the anchor for the assessment, curriculum and instruction of ELLs in the state of Georgia. Complete information on the standards may be accessed through the WIDA Consortium website at: www.wida.us. Rationale for Changes in 2006 The ACCESS for ELLs replaces the Language Assessment Battery (LAB) which had been used in Georgia since 1985. The advantage of the ACCESS for ELLs is that his test: Meets federal reporting requirements to comply with Titles I and III of the No Child Left Behind Act, Maximizes English Language Learners’ opportunities for learning academic content, Is anchored in the five WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards, and thus, The annual assessment is based precisely on the content and language functions which are taught to our ELLs throughout the school year. The five WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards establish a common yardstick to define and measure the progress of ELLs as they acquire the language. They are a dramatic change from the Quality Core Curriculum (QCC) and represent a shift from social and instructional language to a stronger focus on academic language. Most importantly, the five WIDA Standards stipulate that ELLs will learn not only the necessary language of social interaction but also the academic language necessary to be successful in the content areas. The WIDA Standards differ from English Language Arts Standards as they are designed specifically for the linguistically and culturally diverse group of students known as ELLs. These standards are tailored to provide academic rigor for learners whose levels of English language proficiency preclude them from accessing, processing, and acquiring unmodified grad level content in English. They reflect both he social and academic dimensions of acquiring a second language. ESOL Goals and Standards WIDA’S ELP Standards There are five English Language Proficiency Standards which are then differentiated to encompass the four language domains of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. The five overarching ELP standards are: English Language Proficiency Standard 1: English language learners communicate in English for SOCIAL AND INSTRUCTIONAL purposes within the school setting. English Language Proficiency Standard 2: English language learners communicate information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of LANGUAGE ARTS. English Language Proficiency Standard 3: English language learners communicate information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of MATHEMATEICS. English Language Proficiency Standard 4: English language learners communicate information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of SCIENCE. English Language Proficiency Standard 5: English language learners communicate information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of SOCIAL STUDIES. These five standards are further defined through over 800 distinct Model Performance Indicators. These Indicators (MPIs) are arranged into tables by Grade Level Cluster, Standard, Language Domain, and English Proficiency Level. Within each of the standards tables, the MPIs form a new or linear strand. Each stand of indicators is presented in a developmental sequence across language proficiency levels. As the student’s level of language proficiency increases, the Language Function of the MPI becomes more complex. How Do the Standard Fit in Forsyth Schools and Classrooms? Use for the English Language Proficiency Standards (WIDA) can best be explained by the WIDA Consortium as follows: The primary use of the English Language Proficiency Standards is to guide and align curriculum, instruction, and assessment for English language learners. In doing so, the English Language Proficiency Standards, by incorporating the language of the classroom as well as that of the academic subject areas, provide a pathway for English language learners to academic success. Acquiring a new language involves the integration of all language domains: listening, speaking, reading and writing are naturally interwoven in the instruction of English language learners. It is suggest, therefore, that for teaching the series of model performance indicators at a grade level cluster serve as the starting point for creating integrated language lessons. The WIDA Standards lend themselves to thematic teaching, an endorsed approach for ELL students (Freeman & Freeman 2002). Teachers should, therefore, use the model performance indicators to develop curricular themes or units of instruction that involve multiple content areas. Teachers can formulate both language and content objectives for both curriculum and instruction from the standards’ model performance indicators. It is imperative that all staff understand the implications of the WIDA Standards and what they mean in terms of the curriculum they teach. Members of each department/grade level should review the WIDA Standards and determine how to align them with the standards of their respective content areas. Administrators should support teachers by observing classes and by providing specific feedback to teachers on their classroom practices. Focus should be placed on factors that will improve the overall learning climate for ALL students meeting or exceeding standards. Conclusion: Provided with multiple pathways to learning and a focus on the WIDA Standards and the Georgia Performance Standards/QCC, ESOL students should be expected to learn at the same high levels of achievement as other students. To meet this goal, schools need to ensure that students achieve competence in English for academic, social, and cultura l aspects of their lives. The WIDA Standards establish a framework for learning that serve as a valuable tool for school administrators as they assess their academic programs and school climate to ensure the academic success of their ESOL students and for teachers as they align their curriculum with the content standards.
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