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Our school, Luther Burbank High School, has always provided strong support to English Language Learners.

This year, however, that support has reached an entirely different – and higher – level, and the progress being made by our students shows that it is paying off.

Here are the changes we have made this year:

1. Added as many as nine peer tutors to Beginning and Intermediate level ELL classes (see ARE SCHOOLS OVERLOOKING AN OBVIOUS STRATEGY THEY CAN IMPLEMENT IMMEDIATELY TO ACCELERATE LEARNING? PEER TUTORS!). My talented colleague Katherine Bell came up with this idea and made it happen.

2. Required all student teachers to spend one period a day working in a Beginning and Intermediate level ELL class during their second semester when they are on campus all day.  Katherine Bell and our principal, Jim Peterson, came up with this idea and made it happen.

3. Hired a second bilingual aide who has been able to take students (the four newest, for example, to help them get caught-up, or one-on-one sessions with students who are experiencing particular challenges) out regularly during the day to provide additional support. Dr. Elizabeth Villanueva, our school’s new ELL Coordinator, thought of this idea, and our principal found the money for it.

4. Now that ELPAC testing testing is complete, Dr. Villanueva has been able to have regular individual meetings with students who have been experiencing behavioral and/or academic challenges to help them develop goals and strategies to achieve them.

It’s important to point out that most, though not all, of these changes did not require any additional funds.

I expect most of these new supports to continue into the future, and I hope we’ll develop even more!