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San Benito
April 18, 2024

English learner academy was ‘powerful learning opportunity’

Courtesy of the Hollister School District:

One of the most important milestones in the education of our English learner students is the day they become “Redesignated Fluent English Proficient”. 

The Hollister School District Educational Services Department reviewed data for every 4th-8th Grade English Learner to identify students that were very close to meeting reclassification criteria. Students are judged on their academic scores and their writing samples. Over 120 students were identified and invited through letters and personal phone calls to parents. 

Four teachers and seventy-five students spent their February break at the first ever Hollister School District ELPAC Academy that was held at Sunnyslope School. The ELPAC, or English Language Proficiency Assessment, is the exam English Learner students take to demonstrate growth in the English language. Getting a passing score on this test is one of the criteria to become eligible for Reclassification or to be designated as a fluent English student. 

Teacher Stacey Hull shared: “I felt like the ELPAC Academy was a powerful learning opportunity for our students. We thought most students would say they did not want to come because it’s vacation. However, most students said they wanted to come so they could learn strategies to help them reclassify.”

Students analyzed their ELPAC test scores at the Academy in data chats with their teachers. They looked at their overall scores from the previous year as well as  subtest scores to pinpoint areas for improvement. Then, students set academic goals with that information in mind. Student Luis Aguilar stated, “I will remember to take my time and not to rush and be confident.” 

Teachers were trained in the different areas of the ELPAC  and then planned special lessons to give the students practice in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. 

Student Jennifer Jacobo Silva added: “The one thing I liked about the ELPAC academy was writing the sentences that went with the pictures.” She also said, “The one thing I will remember is how to give more details in a sentence.” 

There was a focus on EL instructional strategies such as note taking and speaking prompts. The Academy  integrated technology by having the students experience the online practice test similar to the computer-based summative test they will take in the Spring.

Isaura Ambriz wrote: “What I liked about the academy was when we gathered into groups and would do the sentence strips to match them together. One thing I learned was the difference between the listening and speaking domains.”

EL/Migrant Coordinator Patrisia Martinez stated: “ The idea of an Academy came from Educational Services but the true magic was in the way teachers adapted the curriculum to prepare students. They not only provided test practice but gave students a newfound confidence in how to face the tasks in ELPAC.”

More academies will be planned in the future to help students reach their goal for reclassification. 

For more information, please contact Superintendent Diego Ochoa at [email protected].