School board aligns ESL guidelines

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In their monthly meeting last week, the Sealy ISD school board voted to clarify the requirements for teachers to become certified in English as a second language.

While certifications were in place before, the move was to clarify positions required for the certification.

Emily Eschenburg, coordinator of bilingual programs and services, said the motion wasn’t a sweeping change of any sort, but rather a move to help clarify the process of which teachers need to be certified to meet state requirements.

“All content area teachers in pre-K through eighth grade, special education teachers and high school English language arts teachers would need to be certified,” she said. “All other content area teachers would have to have sheltered instruction training. This training is learning how to make language and content comprehensible for our second language learners.”

Educators hope to see results in the long term, Eschenburg added.

“Our decisions are based on research and data will help the kids in school right now,” Eschenburg said. “This population is growing so we want to make sure we make decisions that help the kids and we support the teachers too.”

Eschenburg said the motion that passed during the school board meeting was a clarification of who needed to be certified and when they had to be certified. The deadline for all teachers to be certified will be in April 2019

“We have to submit a waiver to the state when some of our faculty are serving English Language Learners and aren’t ESL certified. We want to make sure we’re meeting the state standards,” Eschenburg said. “We wanted to be on the same page with the school board, the principals and the teachers.”

She went on to say the motion wouldn’t affect a large number of teachers, but rather addresses pockets of staff who need to be certified who weren’t previously. She said this is an especially important clarification given the expected rise in enrollment and increasing the ISD’s reputation.

“We want to make sure that every kid gets a good education whether English is their second language, they have special needs or are gifted, we want to make sure they’re making a year’s growth, if not more,” she said.

Eschenburg said the motion helps make the requirements for teachers clearer on which certifications they need and will in turn assist the ESL students.

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