Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Leaving ESL

No, not me. One of my students.

At one of my ESL meetings earlier in the year, I learned that there is a second way to get out of ESL (the first of course, is passing the NYSESLAT). If a student has an IEP, the team/committee (I don't know exactly what they are called) can decide that the student does not need ESL and by simply checking a box on the IEP can take the student out of ESL. They didn't say what circumstances would warrant taking a student out of ESL who hadn't passed the test (that wasn't the topic of the meeting) but I immediately thought of a student who I thought should be "X-coded" out of ESL.

This student, E, essentially speaks English as her first language. She got into ESL in the typical way. When she registered for kindergarten her parents marked on her home language survey a certain number of boxes that indicated that she spoke or understood a language other than English (in her case Haitian Creole) and that it was the dominant language in the household. That survey allowed her to be tested for ESL and her low score is what got her in to ESL. I only met her this year so I don't know how much Haitian Creole she at one point knew, but as of meeting her this year she barely understood the concept that people speak other languages. I later learned that she no longer lives with her biological parents and so is not even exposed to another language let alone is she able to speak one.

So, why can't she get out of ESL? She just can't pass the NYSESLAT. It's not a hard test but students who are low level can have trouble passing it even if there is no language barrier. E is a very good student. She tries her best, does neat work and likes to participate but something is not there. She has trouble answering a question orally or written in a clear sentence. She often can't follow directions the first time. These are all things that the speech teacher is working on with her.

E comes to see me for ESL eight periods a week. She also goes to the speech teacher several times a week (and I can't remember if she gets pulled for AIS as well). Basically, she is missing a lot of class. While she does benefit from individual attention, I began thinking that her coming to ESL may actually be detrimental to her. Getting pulled in so many directions she was missing a lot of ELA but also math and science and that didn't really seem fair to her. Especially, since she doesn't need language help, which is what ESL is for: English language learners.

So, last Friday E's speech teacher came to me and said that her IEP was overdue and she had to rush to get it done that day and needed my input. I told her that I had been waiting for the meeting because I had wanted to recommend that she no longer receive ESL services. I said that I was worried that she was missing too much class and didn't really need ESL considering she already receives speech. You should have seen the look of relief on her face when I said that. Apparently that was exactly what she had wanted to talk to me about. She was even more relieved when she learned that the process was as simple as checking a box on the IEP.

And that was it. As of Friday, E is no longer one of my students. In a way I am happy because that is what I wanted for her but I am also a little sad too. I did have certain goals that I was trying to work on with her and now I will never know if she would have been able to achieve them. I talked to her on Monday and asked her if she knew that she wasn't coming to ESL any more. She said that her teacher told her but when I asked her if she knew why she said she didn't. I explained that we (her teachers) wanted what was best for her and we were afraid that she was missing too much class so she would continue to work with the speech teacher but not me. She stood there without saying anything. I asked her if she was sad and she said no. I asked, "Is this what you wanted?" She smiled and said yes.

I have a few other students that I would like to do the same thing for but E is the only one with an IEP so the rest will have to test out on their own.

Now I am down to 13 ESL students. I started out with 16. In January two (brothers) moved. I now have two kindergarteners, one third grader, two fourth graders, three fifth graders, one seventh grader and four eighth graders. My two kindergarteners are the only students that I would actually consider true ELLs.


rose50538 said...

It as not as simple as checking a box on an IEP. First a type 3 must be done requesting monolingual with no esl. You can file this as her esl provider. The type 3 must get approved and until the change is made in CAP making her x coded she must get services. When you get the date that the type 3 was done entered then you can stop servicing.

What seems to be the problem in your school is the program model. In a push in program the students miss nothing and get small group attention.

Be careful about x coding a lot of kids. Remeber they can transfer to other schools where there are better program models. When you x code realize that these students are still ELLs! They must still take NYSESLAT. They just do not require servicing which in the right setting could be small group instruction.

Ms. M said...

thanks for commenting. I do understand that they Type III and other Cap adjustments are necessary but for the simplicity in explaining it's like checking a box. You seems to be very knowledgeable in this area. In my school (both I have worked in) no one (NO ONE!) had heard of X-coding. Even the special ed people. How is that possible? The only kids that we have now x-coded at our school are a small handful who really are not ELLs. Ok, they are on paper according to the DOE but in my professional opinion they are not learners of English. These are kids who are now in fourth or fifth grade, have been identified as ELLs since Kindergarten, have repeated several grades and so are now at 6 or 7 years of ESL service. They are far below grade level in reading and writing because of a learning disability that they may have or what ever the case is. I'm not saying that special ed kids can't also be ELLs but in these cases they are not.

Of course I do still give them the NYSESLAT and they all score at a very low beginner level. To not improve on the NYSESLAT after 6-7 years of service is a clear indication that something is wrong.

Margaret said...

I am a monolingual American born mother who is caught in an ESL-IEP predicament and wonder if you can help me navigate out of it? I am very concerned about my monolingual English-speaking son adopted from Russia almost 6 years ago who has been unable to test out of ESL via the NYSESLAT. He receives pull-out speech/language therapy 2x week, AIS for reading 3x week, plus ESL 5x a week. He is in 5th grade and missing too much class time. I have been begging to take him out of ESL for 3 years to no avail. Can you clarify the process you went through to get E out of ESL as her case sounds very similar. I am not familiar with terms you refer to such as type 3, x-coding, and Caps. My son has an IEP for speech/language, but the Committee for Special Ed (CSE) group for him is adamant that they can do nothing to help get him leave ESL. As his mother, I know in my heart that the ESL classes are not helping enough to justify the lost class time. He clearly has a language delay/disability that has nothing to do with ESL. Hespeaks only English, no Russian or any other language, and is not exposed to any language other than English at home. He is bright, athletic, conscientious, good in math, has good social skills, but has a moderate language delay due to early life deficits. His father and I have begun to seek legal advice, but fear we will not find anyone knowledgeable about this area of law. Any light you can shed would be very much appreciated!