is making big changes to its bilingual program for the 2012-13 school year after
Sherry Johnson, a retired consultant for the Illinois State Board of Education who now works as a bilingual consultant for several school districts in Illinois, conducted the audit and presented her findings at a Dec. 14 District 68 board meeting.
Johnson made 26 recommendations of areas in which District 68 was noncompliant with state standards, from record maintenance to bilingual student-to-teacher ratio.
Changes to note:
- Self-contained K-2 classrooms for Spanish-speaking students
- Adding 8 more ELL teachers
- Adding a Bilingual Liaison to assist Spanish-speaking parents
The biggest change will come for the district’s K-2 Spanish-speaking students, who will be placed in self-contained classrooms where both Spanish and English are spoken. Spanish is the most prevalent second language for District 68.
All ELL students (English Language Learners) currently receive instruction to improve their English proficiency. These students are pulled out of the general education classroom to work on subjects in English and their home language as determined by their needs. Once students are deemed English-proficient, they are transitioned out of the program.
Now, Spanish-speaking students will learn core subjects in a separate classroom.
All Spanish-speaking kindergartners will start at where 80 percent of instruction will be in Spanish; 20 percent in English.
Students who live more than a mile away from Murphy will be bused to school. Since all other kindergartners would need to walk or be dropped off to Murphy, the district is considering decreasing the busing radius to include more students.
Students will move back to their home schools for first- and second-grade but will remain in self-contained classrooms. Two schools, and Murphy, have enough Spanish-speaking students to fill out separate first- and second-grade classes.
The other four, , and , will have a combined first- and second-grade classroom.
During first grade, Spanish/English instruction will be split 70/30. In second grade, instruction will be split 60/40. The split-grade classroom will be split 65/35.
Spanish-speaking K-2 will see their general education counterparts in physical education, music and art.
At third grade, Spanish-speaking students will again learn core subjects in general education classrooms.
This programming is based on a state mandate that requires there must be a transitional bilingual education when there are 20 or more students of the same language group at a school.
Reducing bilingual class sizes
There are currently 626 ELL students (including preschool) in the district's population of 2,920 students. That 21.4 percent has jumped from 6.7 percent of the district’s 3,303 students in 2002.
With 454 Spanish speakers, Spanish is the most common language for these students. However, 32 students speak Arabic, 23 speak Lithuanian and 17 speak Malayalam. Urdo, Ukrainian, Filipino, Akan, Czech, Russian, Bulgarian, Polish and Korean are also spoken, as well.
The district has 543 students with limited English proficiency in grades K-8 and 12 full-time teachers to serve those students. That makes a district bilingual student-to-teacher ratio of 45:1. The district's overall student-to-teacher ratio is 17.7.
The ratio is highest at , where there is one ELL teacher for 63 students.School # of ELL students # of ELL teachers Student-to-teacher ratio 90 2 45:1 50 1.5 33:1 92 2 46:1 87 2 44:1 107 2 54:1 63 1 63:1 54 1.5 36:1
The district had already hired two more ELL teachers before the Dec. 14 meeting.
The district plans to add eight more ELL teachers to its ranks by the fall, and plans to hire a bilingual liaison to assist Spanish-speaking parents in the district.
More teachers mean the district's ELL students will receive more attention to their English proficiency.
Currently, 65 percent of students receive a moderate level of attention, or five to nine half-hour periods of ELL instruction, as defined by the state. Ten percent of students receive a high level of attention, or 10 or more half-hour periods. Ten percent of students receive a low level, or zero to four periods.
With more ELL teachers, 85 to 90 percent of students will receive 10 or more half-hour periods of instruction per week. Ten percent will receive five to nine half-hour periods and 2 to 3 percent will receive zero to four half-hour periods.
The added staff and programming changes will cost the district $2.6 million over the next five years.
The cost won't affect the state of the district's fund balance, said Greg Wolcott, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.
"This isn't something that's going to prompt a referendum or anything," Wolcott said. "The fund balances are still very strong. Referendums are still years and years away."
Wolcott said the District 68 school board was "incredibly supportive" of the changes. Their biggest concern was transporting kindergartners safely to Murphy School and splitting up families between two schools.
2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 Cost (Revenue - Exp.) $590,942.08 $473,463.99 $490,431.27 $508,293.90 $527,147.59 $2,590,278.83
The district decided to conduct an audit of its ELL program after ISAT numbers indicated their limited English proficiency students needed more attention to meet state standards.
In 2011, 65.3 percent of the district's LEP students met or exceeded state standards in reading; 79.6 percent met or exceeded state standards in math. The district did not make AYP for this subgroup.