Supporting Our English Language Learners

We have heard serious concerns from ELL educators about exiting students from services since the physical closure of schools. Since the spring, our ELL students have been unable to take the English Proficiency Assessment (ELPA), which under ODE rules, is the only way students are able to move to the next level or exit out.

This has huge repercussions for students and educators. As an example, one educator reported having 43 students on their caseload who should have been exited. Instead, they were added to the new students that that educator has this year. As a result, their caseloads were off the charts and the students who were not able to exit were required to take an ESL class instead of Art, Band, Tech Ed, etc.

The ELPA testing window is January through March. It is our understanding that the Oregon Department of Education is recommending that educators should give the assessment to students in person and to socially distance, following the ODE’s guidance on “limited in-person instruction.” Our educators were clear that this is not possible or respectful of the students or their families. COVID infection rates are much higher in communities of color compared to their white counterparts. Why would the state even ask to put our students and educators in harm’s way?

At the recent PAT/PPS Instructional Program Council (IPC), the District agreed that this is very problematic. The District and PAT educators are forming a group to present a better solution to ODE that best meets our students’ needs. Stay tuned…