English Language Learners (ELLs) are no different from other students in their need for consistent academic support in order to attain academic proficiency. To achieve language proficiency, it is important that ELLs at all grade levels have experiences outside their home culture and are afforded opportunities to engage in as many language experiences as possible. Gordon County Schools ELL instructors also recognize the stresses and anxieties that many ELLs experience as part of their perceived "difference" from other students and provide appropriate interventions to help diminish these stressors while celebrating each ELL students' successes in language acquisition.
Students are identified for referral to the program through the Primary Home Language Survey completed by each student who enrolls in Gordon County Schools. Those students who indicate languages other than English on the Home Language Survey are administered the WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test (W-APT). Scores from the W-APT are used to screen the student's English language proficiency and assist in determining appropriate ELL services. Of course, the parent is involved throughout this process and has the final decision for ELL program placement.
The World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) standards have been adopted as a means to align curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The standards meet the requirements of the Federal No Child Left Behind Act by linking language acquisition standards and state academic content standards. Teachers are trained in teaching the English language acquisition standards in conjunction with the Georgia Performance Standards and progress monitor each student through collection of data, formative assessments and implementing appropriate instruction that will benefit ELLs. Information collected is then used to determine and implement effective instructional practices that focus on content and language objectives.
Each spring ELLs are administered the ACCESS for ELLs® to determine their current level of English language proficiency. This assessment consists of four sections (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) and is conducted in both individual and group settings. Scores from the ACCESS for ELLs®, student progress reports, and scores from other standardized tests (Georgia Milestones and EOC's) are reviewed and placement decisions for the following year are made.
ELL parents are included in all parent involvement activities provided by Gordon County Schools from Pre-K through high school graduation. ELL teachers contact parents of their students regularly to encourage them to be actively involved in the education of their child and to become active participants in assisting their child to learn English. The system Bilingual Resource Coordinator works collaboratively with our Title I Parent Advocates in each school to support ELL families within the community.