Monday night the Sioux Falls School Board is learning how the district is doing with its accountability, including the state’s report card on English Language Learners.
According to the district, 29 percent of English Language Learners in the district “are on target” to graduate from the program. 50 percent are progressing toward that, but they’re “not on target.”
Mara Colter teaches second- and third-grade English Language Learners at the Elementary Immersion Center in Sioux Falls. She clearly enjoys what she does.
“It’s wonderful,” Colter said. “You, the progress that you see, and the joy in their eyes when they’re speaking and, even an English word for the first time or an English sentence for the first time, it’s just, it’s so rewarding, and we see progress very quickly.”
She stresses visuals.
“We’re still teaching the same curriculum that the rest of the district is teaching, so I’m still using second- and third-grade standards, I’m just adapting it to their level right now, so I’m using a lot of visuals,” Colter said.
“We have identified overall it is the output scores, either it’s the speaking or the writing where our students struggle the most across the district, and so we’ve really worked hard to provide professional development for our teachers and for our administration,” said Demi Moon, curriculum coordinator with the Sioux Falls School District.
There are considerable challenges to teaching English to those who aren’t familiar.
“Students that come in learn social English very quickly, I mean picking up the conversational skills and that comes very quickly, but learning that academic English is much more difficult,” Colter said. “So in order for them to be able to transition out of ELL, they have to be able to understand and apply that academic English.”