Through the educational leadership of Alicia Martin, the English Language Learners of Howard-Winneshiek have completed their state testing for the school year. Immediately following the Iowa Assessment Testing, our students whose first language is not English and who qualify for English Language Learner services, had to continue their educational testing on their English proficiency. The name of this test is ELPA21 and not only are the students required to take this test, they are also required to take a practice test the week before the final test. Wow! Talk about grit and perseverance. The test measures growth in English language proficiency based on the newly developed English Language Proficiency Standards (ELP). The students who qualify for these services are commonly referred to as ELLs, or in other words, "English Language Learners." There are several reasons for this testing and it is rooted in these core beliefs:
- ELLs are a diverse group with varied backgrounds and capabilities.
- All ELLs are capable of making progress toward English language proficiency.
- ELLs need to acquire discipline-specific language practices that enable them to produce, interpret, and effectively collaborate on content-related grade-appropriate tasks.
It is interesting to note that the state of Iowa is well-known for their families who are English Language Learners and in Howard and Winneshiek Counties the primary ELLs are Spanish speaking, but come from all over the world. I fondly remember our students who were here last year from Guatamala and English was not their second language, but their third! Currently at Howard-Winn, we have 16 students who are English Language Learners, but are anticipating an increase in this unique and wonderful population in the near future and in the years to come. This topic over the last few months, has been a "hot topic" in the nation and no matter what personal beliefs are held, the reality is we will need to provide a these students with an education that will enable them to be productive citizens of the United States, in Iowa and indeed at Howard-Winneshiek schools.