Northfield School District in Minnesota is one more school district deciding to have English-as-a-second-language teachers work with English-learners in their regular classes rather than pulling them out of class for specialized instruction, according to a June 18 article in the community’s local newspaper, Northfield News. (Hat tip to TESOL in the News.)
Gary Lewis, the school district’s director of student services, pitched a plan to the Northfield school board to improve services to the district’s 278 ELLs after the district went into “program improvement” under the No Child Left Behind Act. It had failed to make adequate yearly progress for the subgroup of ELLs, the article says. Under the plan, the school district has increased the number of full-time ESL teachers to three from one and decided to replace its practice at the elementary level of having teachers take ELLs out of class for special help with a “push-in” model, where ESL teachers go into regular classes to work with ELLs.
Mr. Lewis is quoted as saying that research supports a push-in model over a pull-out one. Frankly, I can see why ELLs weren’t doing well if the school district had only one ESL teacher for 278 ELLs. That kind of teacher-student ratio didn’t permit the teacher to give each child much help. (June 23 Update: I spoke with Gary Lewis today. I misunderstand what the article said about the number of ESL teachers in the school district. Mr. Lewis said the district has had nearly 7 full-time ESL teachers and is increasing that number by hiring two additional teachers for the coming school year.)
More school districts are replacing pull-out ESL with push-in ESL according to anecdotal evidence that crosses my desk. See my earlier post, “Wisconsin Schools: Moving Away from ESL Pull-Out Programs.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.