Making a Difference for English Language Learners  

March 31, 2015
English Language Learners (ELLs) are the fastest-growing segment of the Nebraska student population in the past 20 years, and they come to our classrooms with a unique set of learning needs. As this change has occurred, teachers and administrators have relied on the ESU 10 Title III Consortium to provide support in meeting the needs of the ELL students. The ESU 10 Title III Consortium is making a difference for ELL students and school staff across central Nebraska by providing training, guidance, and resources.

From 1994-2005, the number of ELL students in Nebraska increased at the astronomical rate of just over 300% (Payan & Nettles, 2008). From 2005-2015, that growth began to plateau, averaging about a 115% increase in the ELL student population (Institute of Education Sciences, 2013). As this demographic shift has taken place over the last two decades, school districts have had to make adjustments in order to meet the needs of this distinct and burgeoning sub-group of the student population. According to a recent study on requisite investments for ELL success in learning English as well as academic content, the following five factors were identified:

 •  A high-quality preschool program
 •  Comprehensive instructional program that addresses both English language development and the core curriculum
 •  Sufficient and appropriate student and family support
 •  Ongoing professional support for teachers with a significant focus on the teaching of ELL students
 •  A safe, welcoming school climate (Horsford & Sampson, 2013).

In light of these recommendations, ESU 10 staff have worked with area teachers and administrators to adjust curriculum, instructional strategies, schedules, materials, staffing, and professional learning in order to best meet the distinct needs of the ELL students they serve.

The offerings of the ESU 10 Title III Consortium have focused on the second and fourth of the previous recomendations. So far during the 2014-15 school year, teachers and administrators from 30 area school districts have participated in trainings offered through the ESU 10 Title III Consortium. These trainings have included webinars, individualized program consultations, regional trainings, and all-staff trainings held at school sites. The topics of these trainings have included research-based instructional strategies for teaching ELL students, designing appropriate programming for ELL students, and information about the unique needs of ELL students. The ESU 10 Title III Consortium will continue to work closely with teachers and administrators to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our area ELL students.

Works Cited 
Horsford, S. D., & Sampson, C. (2013, Summer). High-ELL-Growth States: Expanding Funding Equity and Opportunity for English Language Learners. Voices in Urban Education. Annenberg Institute. Retrieved from Voices in Urban Education: http://vue.annenberginstitute.org/issues/37/high-ell-growth-states

Institute of Education Sciences. (2013). National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from Digest of Education Statistics: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_204.20.asp

Payan, R. M., & Nettles, M. T. (2008). Current State of English-Language Learners in the U.S. Retrieved from https://www.ets.org/Media/Conferences_and_Events/pdf/ELLsympsium/ELL_factsheet.pdf

-by Emily Jameson, Teaching & Learning Coordinator

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