English success for GH schools

Krystle Wagner • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:57 PM

Based on a spring assessment, the 66 students in the district’s English Language Proficiency Assessment program achieved a 45 percent proficiency mark. The students received an 88.6 percent growth achievement.

Teacher Ben Lawrence said he’s thrilled and proud of the progress his students are making.

Besides classroom instruction, Lawrence said the students are responding quickly to learning from their peers and social media.

“That’s where we see the most growth,” he said.

Grand Haven Area Public Schools curriculum specialist Mary Jane Evink said research shows it takes 3-7 years to become proficient in a new language.

Evink said the most common first language for the program's students is Spanish, followed by Nepali.

Throughout the past year, the school district has modified the program to intensify it, while making sure students don’t fall through the cracks.

The program was changed to include more direct English instruction. Evink said they also had the school psychologist collect data to see if they were helping students with the correct intervention for their needs.

Staff throughout the school district are also working on an emersion program that uses specific strategies to accelerate learning, Evink said. For example, teachers are encouraged to ask their students questions, but give them time to translate the question, think of the answer, then translate the answer back into English — rather than teachers jumping in and helping with the answer.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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