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Judie Haynes

President's Message

By Judie Haynes

In several of my past messages, I have written about how important advocacy is to members of our organization.  I have encouraged you to go out of the fields of ESL and bilingual education to learn about what is happening in education in general.  Advocacy for our students and our profession is crucial in the current climate. 

As NJTESOL/NJBE members, we need to support language education in all of its forms. We know how important it is for students to learn a second language. NJTESOL/NJBE shares the goals of Foreign Language Educators of NJ (FLENJ) and of The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL). For the past year, NJTESOL/NJBE has had an Executive Board member on the FLENJ Board. 

Already budget cuts in N.J. have led to massive cuts in foreign languages, especially in the elementary programs.  Now the Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP), the only federal source of funding for world languages in school districts  around the country, is in danger of being cut or eliminated entirely. We need to join our world language teacher colleagues in their fight against the cut. Go to the ACTFL website and read the information on what research studies show regarding the benefits of language learning. (http://www.actfl.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=4524). 
And then write to your U.S. Senators and Representatives by going to http://www.actfl.org/i4a/headlines/headlinedetails.cfm?id=299 
Share this information with the colleagues in your school.  If you have information about World Language programs that have been cut, please contact Sandy McHugh-McBride at smchughmcbride@njtesol-njbe.org

A few NJTESOL/NJBE members have told the Executive Board about school districts that are encouraging classroom and subject area teachers to become certified in ESL so that ESL teacher positions can be eliminated. According to the Department of Education, regular content instruction, even if provided by a certified ESL teacher, does not constitute a period of ESL. The code defines ESL as follows: “a daily developmental second language program of up to two periods of instruction based on student language proficiency which teaches aural comprehension, speaking, reading and writing in English using second language teaching techniques, and incorporates the cultural aspects of the students' experiences in their ESL instruction. A period is the time allocated in the school schedule for instruction in core subjects.“  ESL is a distinct class for English language learners that helps them develop English language skills.  I am happy that school districts are supporting classroom and subject area teachers to become certified in ESL. Our ELLs spend a good deal of time each day with general education teachers so we need to all work together to provide the best education possible for our students. 

Our Pre-K-K SIG Representative, Monica Schnee, writes in her SIG column that her kindergarten ACCESS tests were incorrectly scored for the second year in a row. The AMAO for English language growth is measured by spring-to-spring scores on the ACCESS for ELLs™ test. If tests are not scored properly, it affects this reporting.   According to Monica, one of the problems that occurs is that when teachers leave school in June, the ACCESS for ELLs™ test scores have not yet been sent to school districts. The window for questioning the scores closes at the end of July so, if scores are questioned when teachers return to school, it is too late. Some districts have solved this problem by paying teachers to come in during July to look at scores. We want to encourage  school districts to support the reporting of correct scores.

The US Department of Education announced a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-earlylearningchallenge/index.html) grant competition that will focus on improving early learning and development programs for young children. This grant will support states' efforts to increase the percentage of children in each age group of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who are enrolled in high-quality early learning programs and to design and implement an integrated system of high-quality early learning programs and services. Any use of assessments must  conform to the recommendations of the National Research Council's (http://www.nap.edu/topics.php?topic=344) reports on early childhood. The grant proposal does not give any guidance to applicants on how to assess children who speak different languages. According to Karen Nemeth, a national expert on early childhood education for ELLs, “Children growing up with two or more languages have some concepts and experiences coded in one language, and some in another language.  There is no way to effectively assess a young dual language learner in only one of their languages. We will need to see a heavy reliance on high quality observations, parent interviews and thorough portfolio-based assessment.” New Jersey's RTT/ELC application is being prepared by staff of the Department of Education Office of Preschool. 

WIDA is offering a sneak preview of its 2012 Edition of the English Language Development Standards on their website (www.wida.us/get.aspx?id=413).  The draft will be posted in October, 2011 for comments. There is comprehensive information on their website about this new draft. 
At the very least, I strongly suggest that ESL and bilingual teachers go to the website and click on “New Elements of the 2012 Standards.” This is an tutorial that is extremely clear and informative I have listed a few of the changes below.

NJTESOL/NJBE would like to congratulate The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township and Dr. Yiqian Wu. TCNJ  received a grant from the US Department of Education to help teachers of English language learners in grades K-12 better prepare for the classroom. It is one of 42 colleges in the U.S. who won this grant because they have developed promising programs to improve classroom instruction for ELLs.