About 9% of Carson City School District’s English language learners met the criteria to exit its program during 2020-21, a 5% drop from the typical rate, according to Tanya Scott, assistant director of equity and English language.
Although no quantitative data is available to fully explain the departure from the average 14% rate, Scott said more EL students did participate during the 2020-21 year than most because the district was on a hybrid schedule.
Scott gave a presentation regarding the Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State (ACCESS) scores for English language learners during the CCSD Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 8. The WIDA Consortium, formerly known as the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment, is a global network comprised of U.S. states, territories and federal agencies that oversees a system for K-12 English language learners and administers a test with standards meeting requirements for the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The test is given once a year and it measures the four language domains of speaking, listening, reading and writing to ensure students are becoming proficient and growing in the program. They must demonstrate a composite score of 4.5 to be reclassified as “exited.”
In 2020-21, 229 Carson City students took the test, and about 57% of English language learners earned the requisite composite score of 5 as defined by CCSD leadership, Scott told the board, adding it’s a lifelong process for a language learner to master their skills.
Trustee Joe Cacioppo asked if there’s room for improvement on the average 14% for exiting students from year to year, with Scott responding that the district still needs to determine where it can still further assist learners academically.
The district also continues to identify EL students who might qualify for its more advanced programs or have other needs and need to examine or amplify their composite scores, Scott said. Scores might be measured or reviewed for programs such as Gifted and Talented Education.
“Language development and academic achievement are two different paradigms,” she said. Building on partnerships with the University of Nevada, Reno’s International Center, for example, also could serve as useful community resources or enrichment opportunities.
But Scott was sure of Carson’s increasing enrollment rates among its EL population.
“If Carson City got the participation award, I’m quite certain we would get it,” she said. “We had more than 95% participate. I will say I feel confident that that data looks good.”
Teachers also continue to work on getting their English Language Acquisition and Development licenses in the district. To date, 212 are endorsed through Carson City’s partnership with a university in southern Utah, Scott said. Staff members complete 12 college credits and take classes Thursday nights with the state having changed the endorsements recently, and teachers have had the choice to take courses virtually or as a hybrid option.
“There’s been no lack of interest and no decline,” Scott told the Appeal. “Before we started, there were like 15 teachers with endorsements in the district. We’re increasing student access to teachers that had that on their license. They’re doing it to meet their needs.”
Scott, who formerly was a prekindergarten teacher and has been in education for about 17 years, said she feels she’s in one of the “best kept secrets” of a profession.
“I feel like it’s the best job, like it’s the only job,” Scott said. “People are so happy to see you, and I like the kids.”