Hart district seeks to help ESL students with Achieve courses

The Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District meets Wednesday to discuss matters on its agenda.

A new curriculum containing 20 new courses could be available to students in the William S. Hart Union High School District as soon as the next school year, according to district officials.

The district’s new Achieve courses are currently on the agenda with a recommendation for use beginning in the 2018-19 school year. Hundreds of students in grades 7-12 could be affected by the actions of the governing board at Wednesday’s district meeting.

“These classes are for English Learner students,” said Mike Kuhlman, assistant superintendent of educational services. Specifically, they’re for long-term English learning students who’ve been learning the language for seven years while still not being reclassified as English-speaking students.

“When we work with English learners, the goal is to have them become proficient on the state assessments,” Kuhlman said.

In the past, the state directed schools to use specially designed academic instruction for students who were considered to be long-term English Learning students, but the state discovered that students were prone to falling behind in their core classes.

“You’d have a vicious cycle where you’re trying to support students in their English language acquisition but then they’d fall behind in other classes,” Kuhlman explained. Recently, the state of California released framework for how to best support ESL students, “basically providing a new model to support English learners.”

The new model calls for districts to provide support for students in a regular core classroom through integrated support. English Learners would still be expected to take a regular history class but, unlike before, “they’d now have an instructional assistant added to the classroom,” Kuhlman said, “who would be responsible for assisting students with accessing the core curriculum.”

Students would no longer be caught in the aforementioned “vicious cycle,” mentioned by Kuhlman. A cycle that could subject students to fall behind in classes since they were taking core classes without obtaining the supplemental language support they needed to pass those very same classes.

The state also calls for designated support classes, which would take the form of a separate elective class. Providing an opportunity for the Hart district to provide diversified forms of support in the multiple Achieve classes that could soon be available to students.

“Now, students will also have a seperate elective class to help ensure they are no longer falling behind in their core classes,” Kuhlman said. Achieve classes are classes that were designated support classes, “meaning they’re structured in way so students have help and aren’t overwhelmed.”

If the board authorizes the new curriculum, then the classes will be available at school sites as soon as the 2018-2019 school year. However, due to a variance in resources and funding, it is unclear which Hart district schools will offer the prospective courses.

“We want to provide support immediately,” Kuhlman said. “The goal is to have all schools offer it to the extent that we can.”

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