Thirty-nine percent of the students in Manteca Unified met or exceeded standards in English language arts/literacy in the second year of California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress.
The subgroup of students that was the top performer weren’t students that speak English only. Only 41 percent of the district’s English only speaking students met or exceed the standard.
The top performers by far where students classified as Initial Fluent English Proficient ( IFEP). A stunning 67 percent met or exceeded the standard. The IFEP students are considered sufficiently proficient in English to participate in school even though they come from homes where a language other than English is used. Right behind them are Reclassified Fluent English Proficient (RFEP) students that came in with 61 percent meeting or exceeding the state standard. RFEP students were initially classified as English Leaners (EL) but have subsequently met the criteria for proficiency.
The district’s lowest performing group consists of students classified as English Learners. Twelve percent of that subgroup met or exceeded the standard for language arts. All students regardless of their comprehensive of the English language are required to take the state test covering language arts in English.
The state results underscore the success Manteca Unified has enjoyed in developing effective programs in the aftermath of the passage of Proposition 227 in 1996 that required English learners to take one year of intensive English instruction before being move moved into English only classes. Prior to that, the state required non-English speaking students to be taught in their language.
Proposition 58 on the Nov. 8 ballot — if it passes — would remove the requirement that English-only instruction be offered to educate English learners. It would free schools to put in place other programs including bilingual education. There are challenges however for all districts statewide including Manteca that should happen. Among them is a short window to develop and implement a new allowed program by July 2017, initial startup costs, and securing appropriately credentialed teachers.
Manteca Unified has students that come from homes that have 37 different languages spoken. Some of the different languages are a distinct dialect of a language. While the district isn’t required to teach those students in their native language they must communicate with their parents that often have limited English comprehension.
“We look for people on staff or in the business community that can help us (communicate) with parents,” Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer said of languages that a teacher or administrator may not speak.
The district immerses English Learners in English to acquire proficiency. They receive designated English Language Development for teachers based on their need. Students also receive Integrated English Language Development across other subjects such as math and social science.
Messer noted that the district during the past three years has sharpened its focus on providing training and resources for teachers working with students as they develop English skills.
Elementary schools have program coordinators leading English Learner professional development. At the high schools there are English Literacy Coaches to provide English Learner Development.
In additional bilingual paraprofessionals assist classroom teachers.
The district has tapped into specific state concentration funds for English learners to increase the ranks of bilingual paraprofessionals since 2013. The district is currently looking to hire more bilingual paraprofessionals.