On Wednesday (9.25.13) evening the Worthington Schools hosted an English Language Learners family orientation at our Worthington Education Center. Throughout Worthington Schools we serve close to 600 students who are designated as English Language Learners. These are students whose home or native language is not English. Our students speak over 35 different languages including: Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Tamil, Telugu, Chinese, French, Twi, Gujarati, Bengali, Gujarati, Mandingo, Malayalam, Russian, Akan, Hindi, Korean, Krio, Thai, Vietnamese, Swahili, Somali, Turkish, German, Greek, Ewe, Igbo, Italian, Kurdish, Marathi, Panjabi, Portuguese, Swedish, Tagalog, and Tigrinya
In Ohio, public school districts must identify all students whose primary or home language is other than English (PHLOTE). The district then assess all PHLOTE students to determine if they are limited English proficient and need special language assistance to participate effectively in the district’s instructional program.
After a school district has identified LEP students who need assistance, it determines what kind of special language service program is to be provided and then implements the program. Ohio does not prescribe a specific type of intervention program. Thus, school districts have the flexibility to decide on the educational approach that best meets the needs of their LEP/ELL students.
In Worthington our ELL team works hard to engage families and to help them partner in their children’s education. On Wednesday evening families were invited to the Worthington Education Center to learn about the school system, the expectations for their children’s learning, and how families can get needed support. The school district provided families with dinner and had babysitting available for families in order to make their attendance possible.
Parents rotated through stations that explained accessing Infinite Campus, accessing reading help such as RAZ kids, and understanding Worthington and Ohio’s statewide assessments. One station addressed our cultural expectations: things like checking homework, looking for student agenda planners, attending parent-teacher conferences and even how the breakfast and lunch program work. Finally, parents learned how they could access English Language courses for themselves.
Navigating Worthington is complicated for all parents. I can only imagine how complicated it is for our families from other cultures with limited English skills. Driving home from Wednesday night’s meeting I have never been prouder to be a public educator in America. We live in a country where we provide transportation to and from school. We provide both breakfast and lunch, and we provide safe and secure environments. We go out of our way to make sure all students, no matter what their background, earn at least one years’ growth. Wednesday night’s message was simple: it doesn’t matter to us what language you speak, we’re here to help you and to help your child grow. We’re glad you’re here!