Clarifying Newcomer/RAEL Program Design

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Let’s break down some thoughts and areas of confusion around Newcomer/RAEL program design. In serving our new-to-English students, it’s important that our site-based model(s) of instruction truly reflect our student population and specific learning needs.

Clarifying Newcomer/RAEL Program Framework

ELL programming is not a homogeneous application.  In fact, there are many different channels to achieve the aim of targeted, accelerated academic language instruction.  It will be up to you and your key stakeholders to determine the mode or combination of modes that will best service your specific student population, school culture and available resources.

Both Newcomer or RAEL (Recent Arriver English Learner) initiatives are unique in that they are designated according to units of time.   Newcomer and RAEL programming, as defined by ESSA, is designed to serve new-to English speakers for up to two full semesters. After this interval, students are expected to transition into standard EL programming and/or traditional mainstream coursework for the duration of their school career (though even mainstreamed students may still be eligible to receive supplementary English support services).  

However, certain exceptions can be made for learners who demonstrate exceptional need.   If, after two semesters, a student is not making the appropriate academic progress toward language-based exit criteria- and if such evidence suggests that such gap would significantly impair a child's opportunity to fully participate and succeed in a mainstream learning environment- then he or she may be referred for additional Newcomer services.

Newcomer policy differs from general ELL services (such as ESL for Spanish speakers or ESL pull-out sessions for mainstreamed Newcomers), which are not time contingent.  General ELL programming is based on English language skill and ability level. As long as an identified English language learner evidences a need for continued skill-building in any of the four language domains (reading, writing, speaking, listening), he or she will remain eligible for these services.

Let’s take a look at the most common language service programs.  Be thinking about which services already exist on your campus, or which specific styles (or combinations) might be the best fit for your campus.

Note that the stated descriptors will widely from one state or district to another. However, the core elements of each program model should remain consistent.


PROGRAM MODELS FOR LANGUAGE LEARNING


Dual Language:  Learners are instructed in and encouraged to interact in both the heritage and the host language, with a goal of developing and maintaining proficiency in both.  ELA-S (Spanish) programs are the most prevalent form of dual language education in the U.S.

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NUMBER OF D/L STUDENTS

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PERCENTAGE OF D/L STUDENTS

Transitional Bilingual:  Learners are initially instructed in and encouraged to interact both the heritage and host languages, with a goal of developing English proficiency and fully transitioning to mainstream programming.  In this way, the heritage language is slowly phased out as English language abilities increase.

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NUMBER OF T/B STUDENTS

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PERCENTAGE OF T/B STUDENTS

Newcomer Programming:  Using Sheltered Instruction techniques and a range of socio-linguistic supports, learners are instructed in and encouraged to interact in English, with a goal of developing English proficiency and fully transitioning to mainstream programming.  Newcomer instruction may encompass other areas, including Western norms and values; trauma and shock mitigation; health and wellness protocol and additional parent-outreach efforts.

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NUMBER OF N/C STUDENTS

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PERCENTAGE OF N/C STUDENTS

Tier 2 ELL/ESL Services:  Tier 2 Services enable eligible students to participate in Push-In/Pull-Out resources for English language development, with a goal of enhancing English language abilities after a child has been mainstreamed.  In Push-In settings, a language specialist will meet and work with the child in his or her classroom, while Pull-Out options call for students to leave the homeroom for established durations to work on language development in individual or small group contexts. Programs will vary by school design. 

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NUMBER OF TIER 2 STUDENTS

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PERCENTAGE OF TIER 2 STUDENTS