When my mom enrolled me in a public school in East Los Angeles, she filled out a form called a Home Language Survey. This survey is given to every student enrolling in a public school in California for the first time, including public charter schools.
There are 3 main questions (for the most part) listed for parents and guardians to answer:
- Which language did your child first learn to speak?
- Which language does your child speak more frequently?
- Which language do you parents/guardians most frequently use at home?
My mother answered these questions in the following manner: English, English, Spanish. The law requires that students take a language test (called the English Language Proficiency Assessment, previously known as CELDT) if one or more of the answers this survey is anything other than English. I was placed in an all Spanish speaking class for half of the school year, and my teacher soon realized I was bilingual and guided my mom through my reclassification process, I passed the language assessment that same year.
Like my mother, many parents and guardians are unsure about ELL and the process of getting reclassified. I wanted to provide some answers and guidance. I still recommend that you talk to someone on your campus that can help guide you and your child with your specific situation or specific needs.
How do I find out if my child is an English Language Learner?
This is easy! Just ask your school’s front office or the person in charge of student files and information. Usually this person could be the Office Manager on your campus or the Registrar, the information is easy to track in the California data system called CalPads.
How do students get reclassified as being proficient in the English Language?
Reclassification for ELL students means that he/she has learned the English language (according to the state) and is now considered to be proficient in English. A child gets reclassified if the following requirements are checked off:
- The child passess the Language Assessment
- Teacher’s Evaluation of your child’s proficiency in the English Language
- You agree and are consulted before your child is considered to be reclassified
- Comparison of student performance in basic skills against other students in the same age group who are proficient in English
What can I do to help my child get reclassified as soon as possible?
I want to start answering this question by explaining that being bilingual or knowing a different language is beautiful. Not many people in the United States can say they are bilingual. In fact, most people from other countries know more than one language. So let’s celebrate this with our children and encourage them to continue practicing all the languages they know.
- You can get involved in your school’s English Language Advisory Committee or ELAC (if applicable). In this committee, you can learn more about the programs and support that your public school provides ELL students.
- Ask their teachers for tips that you can use at home to support your child’s development of the English language.
- Practice critical thinking skills with your child at home. Ask them who, what, when, why questions about a book they are reading or a magazine they like to pick up once in a while. You can practice critical thinking skills in your home language! It isn’t necessarily important to practice this in English, it is the skills of thinking critically about a read that will help them during their language assessment at school.
One last important thing to note:
Schools get extra Title I and TItle III funding for each student who is considered an ELL. This means that you can actively ask about the funds and keep your school accountable in providing the supports that ELL students need to be on their way to reclassification.
You can also keep your schools accountable if their reclassification percentages are low. Find out these percentages and numbers on the California School Dashboard website.
Some great questions to ask:
- What is this school doing to ensure that our ELL students are being reclassified at higher rates?
- What kinds of supports are in place for students learning the English Language?
- What are Title I and Title II funds being used for to support our ELL student population?
- Does this school have an ELAC that I can get involved in?
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