North Carolina: Thomasville Board of Education will study new policy on ESL

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Aug 3 14:28:52 UTC 2006

Aug 2, 2006

Thomasville Board of Education will study new policy on ESL

The Dispatch

THOMASVILLE | The Thomasville City Board of Education is studying a new
written plan outlining its program for students learning English as a
second language.  Associate Superintendent James Carmichael presented the
60-page document to the board Tuesday night, asking members to study it
for 30 days before taking a vote. The board voted 4-0, with Vice
Chairwoman Cheryl Eaddy absent, to table the plan until the next meeting.
"The state is requiring every school system to have an ESL policy, and
this is designed to fulfill that," he said. "... The policy is mandated.
What the specifics are - that's up to us."  Carmichael led a steering
committee this summer that revised the system's ESL policies to meet the
mandate. The committee considered methods for identifying and assessing
students who qualify for ESL instruction, staffing and other resources to
be provided and methods for evaluating the effectiveness of the program.

The program's stated goals are to provide services to English language
learners that enable them to become proficient enough in English to
participate fully in the regular instructional program and to help those
students and their families share their culture and become part of the
school community. Unlike bilingual education, instruction is in English,
but ESL teachers adapt their language to the proficiency level of the
students. Superintendent Dr. Daniel Cockman noted that between 400 and 500
students systemwide require ESL instruction. "This is an area where the
state is really falling down in funding,"  Cockman said. "We've put in
many local positions to meet this need."

The Thomasville school system employs five teachers and four assistants,
but state and federal funds cover only three of the nine positions,
Carmichael said. Roughly 21 percent of students in the city's four schools
are Hispanic, and most are ESL students. Of those in grades 3 through 8,
Carmichael said about 70 percent are at grade-level proficiency in
English. At Thomasville Primary School, the proportion of ESL students is
25 to 30 percent, which includes students other than Hispanics.


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