10/23/12 — Non-English speaking students increasing

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Non-English speaking students increasing

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 23, 2012 1:46 PM

The number of non-English-speaking students in Wayne County Public Schools continues to grow by leaps and bounds, along with the number of languages represented in the district.

Hope Meyerhoeffer, director of English and language arts, second language, English as a Second Language, visual arts and effective schools, shared information on the school system's English as a Second Language and LEP, or limited English proficiency, programs at the recent school board meeting.

"Last year we had a total of 2,365 (students)," she said. "This year, we have a total of 2,757, with an increase in the number of languages to 35 (from 26).

"We have 35 languages in Wayne County. This is the first year we have had that many and our figures keep growing. About every other day we are adding more students."

The largest group represented are Spanish-speaking, she said, with 2,497, followed next by 87 Arabic/Egyptian/Lebanese Syrian and then 45 Haitian Creole. Only a smattering of double-digit dialects are represented, including 36 Chinese-speaking, 15 Creoles and Pidgins (French), 13 Tagalog/Filipino, and 11 Japanese.

Among the other languages on the list are Bosnian, Chamorro, Icelandic, Lingala, Russian, Swedish, Ukranian, Urhobo and Yoruba.

LEP students, who are enrolled in the ESL classes, also increased this year by 77, from 1,492 to 1,569.

And yet the number of full-time teachers working with these students remains the same, at 21, although an additional part-time teacher was added, bringing the number of those to eight.

"If you get to thinking about the number we have taking care of ESL students, that's a lot," Mrs. Meyerhoeffer said. "They may have two schools, they may have three schools. They move around.

"Some of them are situated in just one school because of the large numbers. We may have to spread them around."

Another impressive statistic she shared was just how many students have successfully completed the program this past school year, 221.

"That's the largest number we have ever had," she said. "Usually it's 40, 50, last year it was 80. But 221 students exited the ESL program because they made at least a '5' on their ACCESS (test) scores.

"Now, why did so many exit this year? Well, I have a good idea. We have excellent teachers and they work hard but this past year we received from the federal government in Title 3 (immigrant education funds), based on the number of immigrants we have in Wayne County."

Mrs. Meyerhoeffer explained that the term immigrant, as used here, is defined as a student born outside the U.S. who has lived in this country three years or less.

The funding made a huge difference, she said.

"It was difficult for these teachers to do one-on-one instruction and they had so many students, so I hired tutors to go to schools where there were immigrant students and they worked all year with those students," she said. "The classroom teachers called and raved about those teachers. Students were actually able to do the work that other students were doing.

"(Teachers) were excited, asked if we could do it again the next year and the next year."

Of course, that all depends on the funding, she said.

"Well, guess what? We got the funds again this year," she said. "I have already hired the tutors and gotten them back in the classroom."

Board member Arnold Flowers asked if there was a particular segment of the county that is more heavily populated with the foreign students.

"Yes, you have more in the Spring Creek, Spring Creek High, that area and then Mount Olive, you've got Carver, Mount Olive Middle and Brodgen (schools). Those schools have quite a large number," she said.