The arrival of students speaking languages other than English can be challenging, but also provides powerful learning opportunities for all. Did you know that English language learners (ELLs) are the fastest growing population in Iowa and U.S. schools? As reported by the Iowa Department of Education (BEDS, 2008-2009), Area Education Agency 267 (AEA 267) had 3041 English language learners in 41 districts, which was 4.5% of the total student enrollment. Consistent with national trends, the ELL population has significantly increased over the past several years in AEA 267. Accordingly, AEA 267’s ELL population has grown by 70% from 2001-2002 to the 2008-2009 school year.
At AEA 267, our goal is to assist districts in best serving English language learners. We accomplish this through a variety of activities. AEA 267 offers classes and workshops for educators and community members. For example, over the past year, a few of the classes offered were Sheltered Instruction, Multicultural Students with Special Language Needs, and Introduction to English Language Learners for New ELL Teachers. Future offerings will include sessions for mainstream and ELL teachers on strategies, technology, and literacy instruction as well as focused sessions for special education staff and administrators. Keep your eye out for these upcoming classes: I-ELDA Training for New Test Administrators (Jan., 2010), English Language Learners for Administrators (Feb., 2010), Designing ELL Instruction for ELL Teachers (March, 2010), Sheltered Instruction (summer, 2010), and Multicultural Students with Special Language Needs (June, 2010) and Using I-ELDA Data to Inform Instruction (fall, 2010).
AEA 267 offers consultation services, technical assistance, and resources/materials to teachers, schools, and districts. We assist districts in effective ELL programming, legal requirements, and research-based instructional strategies, as well as problem-solving student specific language-related issues, and working with administrators. These services are delivered by two full-time ELL consultants out of the Marshalltown and Clear Lake offices.
Several additional teacher resource/materials are available for check-out through the AEA 267 Media Services department. These include items such as professional books, children’s literature, hands-on activities, DVD’s, CD-ROM’s, and more.
The agency promotes family involvement and recognizes the cultural values children bring to school. We support districts’ parent involvement activities, such as helping to design family nights, providing funding support for events, and creating an awareness of community opportunities. We offer resources on cultural information and how districts can effectively work with families.
To assist school districts in serving English language learners, AEA 267s’ ELL consultants offer a wealth of information and experience. As required by law, English language learners need to fully develop their English and academic language proficiencies. AEA 267 is here to work alongside district staff in their efforts to achieve their educational goals.