Previously, the focus on English Language Learners (ELLs) was on the acquisition of English language proficiency, not grade-appropriate content area knowledge. Now the new standards require a standards-based accountability system where there are content standards, aligned instruction, and content-area assessments.
- The new standards mandate for “more complex and rigorous content” can be extremely challenging for ELLs. By the fourth and eighth grades, nearly 70% of the students score below basic reading and math skills.
What should you do to prepare them?
- Define ELL challenges and develop methods to assess strengths and weaknesses for each student
- Describe methods and source a wide variety of print and digital materials that will help meet the standards
- Use scaffolded instruction to help ELLs understand the meaning of passages as they progress to more complex text and content
- Differentiate instruction to meet their strengths and weaknesses while monitoring progress
Well-designed ELL programs require effective assessments, periodic progress monitoring, differentiated instruction, and classroom interaction to develop the wide variety of language, communication, and academic skills needed to succeed with the new reading standards.