Tahoe Truckee schools preparing revised English learner program | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Truckee schools preparing revised English learner program

Kyle Magin
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; After months of discussion on ways to close the academic performance gap between English-learner students and their native-English speaking counterparts, the school district has prepared a solution.

Nicole Sayegh, whom the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District hired earlier this month as its district-wide EL coordinator, is working on a revised EL master plan for school board approval on Dec. 9.

and#8220;(The plan) includes the implementation of the compliance side of things, and it also brings in a whole student assessment. And weand#8217;re using data to find out how we can best meet the needs of a particular EL,and#8221; Sayegh said.

The plan follows state laws more strictly, Sayegh said, in terms of monitoring students who have graduated to English fluency and in showing more fidelity to the Spanish waiver process.

Previously, the district allowed EL parents to waive their children out of English classes and into the bilingual classes without students first trying to fit into English classes, said Superintendent Steve Jennings, a violation of California proposition 227, a 1998 law requiring all students be taught in English.

The law dictates students first must enroll in the districtand#8217;s English programs, and if they struggle, they can apply for the waiver to be taught in Spanish.

At the outset of the school year, in an effort to follow the state law, the district canceled the bilingual education program at Truckee Elementary School, a decision some parents protested in person during the first week of school.

and#8220;Truckee Elementary is the perfect example,and#8221; said Sayegh, former EL site administrator at North Tahoe Middle School and academic coach whoand#8217;s been with the district since 2003. and#8220;What a parent will see now is when they bring their child into the district, theyand#8217;ll immediately go into one of our English programs.and#8221;

According to the districtand#8217;s revised EL plan, if parents request a waiver for a child to be taught in Spanish, Sayegh will work with that schooland#8217;s site administrator and the parent to analyze the studentand#8217;s data and determine if an alternative program is in their best interest.

If so, the districtand#8217;s new alternative plan and#8212; rather than the former bilingual program and#8212; is one geared at the rapid acquisition of English, Sayegh said. Students will transition from a bilingual classroom to a majority-English classroom within three years.

and#8220;The waiver program is really clarified as to what the parentand#8217;s rights are,and#8221; Sayegh said.

In addition to executing the EL plan, Sayegh said EL site administrators will work with teachers to incorporate English language development into various core subject areas, such as social studies and science.

Truckee-area high school students are eligible to attend a free H1N1 vaccine clinic from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23, at the Sierra Mountain Community Education Center in Truckee.

The clinic is open only to students in grades 9-12. Parents must accompany all students under the age of 17 to consent to the vaccine, and students 18 or older must show valid school ID or a driverand#8217;s license. Individuals who are ill will not be allowed to enter.