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Number of ELL students increases districtwide

Oct. 25, 2007

Plans are under way to enhance instructional programming for students enrolled in the Brown Deer School District's English Language Learners program.

The announcement, made at the Oct. 22 School Board meeting, comes after the realization by administrators that the number of ELL students has nearly doubled at the middle and high school levels.

ELL instruction is geared toward students who are learning English as a second language.

Jim Hecht, director of pupil services, said ELL enrollment figures at the middle school have grown from 11 to 17 pupils, while the high school counts have risen from 17 to 32. Elementary-level student counts have remained flat at 55 students.

Combined, the district is hosting more than 100 ELL students this year. Because of the increase, Hecht said the district is obligated under state law to form an ELL Plan of Service. The report, which is being compiled and reviewed, will outline specifically what measures Brown Deer is taking to reach this population.

School staff this year are working with students who speak a total of 16 foreign languages. An influx of Hmong students accounts for a portion of the increase.

Hecht said the district is looking to increase the bilingual teaching staff in an effort to reach out to all students. The goal is to refrain as much as possible from pulling ELL students out of the classroom.

"Kids learn best if they're in that environment where English is spoken," he said.

Director of Instruction Terry Brecklin said the district also is beginning to implement a staff-development course related to cultural diversity.

"Right now, we're working with a core group of teachers that have a particular interest in it," Brecklin said.

Board member Gary Williams asked the administrators to keep cultural competency in mind while working with ELL students.

"What it says is that teachers have had enough familiarity with their culture, as well as the language," Williams said. "We need to reach students where they're at."

Dave Fidlin can be reached at dfidlin@cninow.com or (262) 446-6603.

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