M.N. asks from Plano, TX on September 10, 2008
ESL Program of Plano
My 5 year daughter had been going to a very good preschool for the last two years. This year she started KG at a public school in PISD. She speaks English well though she does make some grammatical mistakes. She is comfortable reading and writing the uppercase and lower case letters, can write simple 3 - 4 letter words mostly correct and tries to write the bigger/compound words too,though she makes mistakes. She started reading when she was 4.5 and since then we have progressed to books like "The Frog and Toad" , Little Bear series and others. She has read several of Dr. Seuss's books and many others. She reads atlest 3-5 days a week.
Since English is not our mother tongue our daughter was asked to take an ESL test. To our surprise she could not make it. When we expressed our surprise the test teacher asked her to read "Green eggs and Ham"(first few pages) which she did flawlessly. She also asked some rhyming words that she answered.Then the ESL teacher asked the number of her preK teacher which we provided. A few days later the ESL teacher told us that we have to take her to the ESL testing centre as the test that she had given was not for entering KG students but of a higher level. She apologised and said based on her interaction with our daughter she should do fine and not have any problems. She did not speak to her preK teacher. Also, when we mentioned all this to her PreK teacher she was very surprised and said that she is amongst her best students. She could not believe that she was being made to do the ESl course.
At the ESL centre she was taken to a separate room and tested. She could not clear it and this time we were told that since a computer is grading no personal judgement is involved.
My questions and concerns are-
1. Will she be missing something that the regular kids do and be made to do a much simpler level of English than she is actually capable of.
2. All that my daughter went through, does it sound normal?
Thanks a lot
K.C. answers from Denver on September 10, 2008
I have been an ESL teacher in Plano for several years so I know the program, system, and laws well.
Let me answer #2 first...It is unfortunate that she was given the wrong test at first but it sounds like the rest of what happened was right on par. It is Texas state LAW that students be tested if English is not their first language. That law also dictates what is a passing score and what is not, so unfortunately, the opinions of the preschool teacher, Kinder teacher, and ESL teachers would have made no difference.
For question #1....yes and no. She may be missing some of the activities that the other students are doing but the instruction she recieves in ESL is the same content just taught in a way that would be more appropriate for an ESL student. The PP was correct it is about 30 minutes a day. You, as the parent, have the right to deny ESL services so that she is not pulled out of the classroom. I would caution you to do this...Denying services works out ok for most students in the lower grades but sometimes the gap catches up with them in the upper grades. There shouldn't be any stigma associated with being an ESL student...it does not mean that the student is deficient in any way, it just means that they need some specialized instruction for a little while.
I hope this helps, please feel free to private message me if you have any more questions. :)
1 mom found this helpful
T.F. answers from Dallas on September 10, 2008
I work in the Plano ISD as a substitute and with ESL.
First of all....you have a right to refuse the service if you choose. You just have to go to your school and sign the paperwork.
Secondly, when ESL students are pulled from the classroom, they are gone about 1/2 hr or less. They work on the same material that the class is working on except with more focus with ESL. They do not really "miss" anything in the classroom. The timing when they are in ESL is when the class is working on the same subject. At our school, the ESL students do not miss out on special groups, projects, experiments or anything like that. I can't speak for ALL schools, I just know how it works at ours.
There are several gifted and very talented students in our ESL program. It is simply extra support and is welcomed by most parents. It does not sound like she went through any testing that was not normal. If she is reading and speaking at a higher level that some of her classmates, she probably will be tested for the PACE program so that she can be challenged a little more with her work.
If you don't like it or don't want it, just file the paperwork.
A.J. answers from Dallas on September 11, 2008
I WOULD ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO LET HER GO TO ESL in your case.
You need to take it to the district and refuse and tell them you want her in the regular classes. You have a right to refuse. go to her principle and let her talk to him and read to him and see if there is anything he can do about it. you really have to push with some of the districts to get what you want...
HTH- A. J
L.T. answers from Dallas on September 10, 2008
It sounds like Plano I.S.D. is trying to put her in a special program that she does not need. Some schools and districts are eager to do this - often as the result of the pressures of standardized testing. As a parent, you have the right to refuse this service. There is a form you must sign to decline services.
The skills you describe are beyond what is expected for a student entering kindergarten. She really sounds ready. I would decline services and have my daughter in the regular class where she can start building relationships and hear English. You can always revisit ESL services if necessary in the future.