Teaching & Learning » English Learners FAQs

English Learners FAQs

How do students qualify for the ESL/Bilingual Programs?

When registering, families fill out a Home Language Survey. If a language other than English is spoken with the student, a teacher will assess the academic English of the child using the WIDA assessment tools. Students are assessed on listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  If the student qualifies for the program, the family will be notified and the child will be placed in an appropriate program.

When do students exit the program?

Our goal is to maintain grade-level content expectations for students while they are building their skills in English. We want them to be able to make a successful transition when they no longer need support. Annually, a standardized language assessment, ACCESS, is given to all students who qualify for services. If their score meets the Illinois State expectations in the domains of Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing, they will transition out of the program.

What do programs for English Learners look like in District 117?

  • English learners are expected to master grade level standards at their language level
  • Students are grouped for support based on language and language level
  • Students are provided instruction in groups smaller than regular class sizes
  • Literacy skills are taught through the content areas
  • Instruction includes the language domains of Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing
  • Students are included in the regular education classrooms as much as possible.
  • Language support is provided in the home language when possible

What are language levels?

When initially screened for services, teachers provide parents with information on a student’s language level. ACCESS scores, which indicate language levels, are also reported to parents annually until the student reaches proficiency.  This information helps teachers know how to best provide services for each student.
Language levels are:
  • Level 1- Entering
  • Level 2– Emerging
  • Level 3- Developing
  • Level 4- Expanding
  • Level 5- Bridging
  • Level 6- Reaching