The Office of Special Programs

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SX Dog Park Groundbreaking
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Dog Park Groundbreaking
SX Gifted and Talented
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YG Elementary GT Students
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The Office of Special Programs
40 S Second Street
Oakland, MD 21550
Phone 301.334.8900 ext 8950
Fax 301.334.7642

English Language (EL) Learners in GCPS

Mission Statement:
To comply with requirements of Title III in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (Title III, ESSA, Sec. 3000), the English Language Learners Office of the Maryland State Department of Education works with the Garrett County Public Schools Office of Special Programs to ensure that GCPS establish, implement, and sustain high-quality language instruction educational programs to meet the needs of our EL learners.
Belief Statement:
EL students will meet the same challenging academic standards that is expected of all GCPS students while working to develop English language proficiency.

The EL Identification Process
Upon enrollment, school officials will ask the student’s parents/guardians if a language other than English is spoken in the home through the use of a Home Language Survey (HLS).
A potential EL student is someone who may have been born outside of the United States and/or:
  • who communicates in a language other than English; or
  • whose family uses a primary language other than English in the home; and
  • whose English language proficiency falls within the range established by the State for an English language development program.
However, just because another language is spoken in the home or regularly used in other settings, that is not an adequate basis for identifying a student as an EL. The Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) provides the criteria of the Home Language Survey (COMAR 13A.05.07.02) as well as the identifiers for an English Learner (COMAR 13a.05.07.03).

Student Eligibility
A student’s eligibility for English-to-Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services is based on the English Language Proficiency placement test. Garrett County Public Schools utilizes the Kindergarten W-APT and WIDA Screener Paper (for Grades 1-12) to identify English learners within the school district. (See additional information below regarding these screening tools.)
Once identified, the parents/guardians of the EL student must be contacted for participation in the ESOL program:
  • No later than 30 days after the beginning of the school year for students who enter at the start of the school year
  • Within the first two weeks of a student being placed in such a program if the student was not identified as an EL prior to the beginning of the school year.
Also available to parents during the enrollment process is The Guide to School for Families of English Learners. It is a reference handbook from the Maryland Department of Education to assist our EL families with understanding the school system. It offers suggestions for how to interact with school staff to support their child’s learning as well as provides information about Maryland public schools including how to enroll a child in school, schools by grade levels, early childhood education, opportunities for parents, and much more.

Parent Notification
The ESOL Placement: Parent Notification Letters must be sent to parents/guardians of EL students annually. This includes:
  • Newly identified EL students,
  • Students who are to continue participation in the English language programs,
  • Students for whom services have been refused.
The Refusal of Placement in ESOL Program Letters must be sent annually to parents/guardians who indicate that they do not wish for their child to participate in the ESOL program.

English Learner Assessments
WIDA provides the English language proficiency assessments administered for GCPS and all of Maryland. These assessments aid in:
  • program decisions,
  • identification of ELs, and
  • placement into an EL program.
English language proficiency annual assessments are used to determine ELs’ current level of English capability. All students identified as EL are required to participate in the annual assessment until exiting status is earned by scoring proficient (i.e., fluent).The annual assessment is used for accountability purposes.
WIDA English language proficiency placement assessments are designed to provide an initial measure of a student’s English language proficiency and test four domains:
  1. Listening,
  2. Reading,
  3. Writing, and
  4. Speaking.
Kindergarten W-APT:
  • The Kindergarten WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test (K W-APT) is the English language proficiency placement assessment for kindergarten and first semester grade 1 students.
  • Reading and Writing tests are only administered to students in second semester kindergarten and first semester grade 1.
WIDA Screener:
  • The WIDA Screener is the English proficiency placement assessment for grades 1 (second semester) through 12.
  • WIDA Screener test forms are divided into five grade-level clusters:
    • grade 1,
    • grades 2-3,
    • grades 4-5,
    • grades 6-8 and
    • grades 9-12.
  • Students entering grades 3, 6, and 9 during the first semester take the WIDA Screener for the grade they have just completed (e.g., 2, 5, or 8); if students are entering school during the second semester, they will take the WIDA Screener for their current grade level.
English language proficiency annual assessments are required to be administered to ELs who have not yet scored proficient. The ACCESS for ELLs suite of assessments consists of assessments for ELs in kindergarten through grade 12. These assessments are administered annually to monitor EL students’ progress in acquiring academic English. WIDA ACCESS assessments test four domains:
  1. Listening,
  2. Reading,
  3. Writing, and
  4. Speaking.
Kindergarten ACCESS:
  • The Kindergarten ACCESS for ELLs is the annual English language proficiency assessment for ELs in kindergarten.
  • This test is compiled of performance-based tasks for all four language domains. It is administered to students individually.
  • The ACCESS for ELLs is the annual English language proficiency assessment for ELs in grades 1-12 and is divided into grade-level clusters.
  • The online test is semi-adaptive, meaning students will progress through the test based on their performance on previous items and domains.
  • ACCESS for ELLs is given to all English learners during the annual testing window, which typically takes place from early January through late February. This web based program is administered over several testing sessions.

English Learner Exit Criteria
The following score must be earned for on the ACCESS for ELLs (K-12) and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs (1-12) assessments for students to exit the EL program:
  • ACCESS for ELLs: Overall composite proficiency level of 4.5 or above
  • Alternate ACCESS for ELLs (1-12): Overall composite proficiency level of P2

EL Program Enrollment
GCPS ELs 2019 - 2020 2020 - 2021
Elementary Total <1% <1%
Secondary Total <1% <1%