The state's top three priorities for policies and programs related to English-language learners are:
Goal 1: To increase the English proficiency of ELLs by providing high-quality language instruction educational programs aligned with scientifically researched programs that are determined to be effective in increasing English proficiency and student academic achievement.
- As required under NCLB Title III, Maryland has established English language proficiency standards. The State also conducts an annual, standards-based assessment of English language-proficiency. Further, the State has defined annual measurable achievement objectives (AMAOs) for increasing the percentage of ELLs progressing toward and attaining English proficiency; and for meeting academic achievement standards.
- The State of Maryland requires that each local school system establish and ESL or bilingual education programs for those students who have been identified as LEP. The ESL or bilingual education programs must contain the following components: goals; student identification; student placement; curriculum and instruction; personnel; materials of instruction; facilities; program organization; parent and community involvement; support services; and program evaluation. (COMAR 13A.05.07.03 Programs for Non-English and Limited-English Proficient Students) To strengthen the education programs, MSDE provides technical assistance and monitoring.
- The Bridge to Excellence Master Plan is Maryland’s primary accountability tool, since the plans are subject to State approval. Annual updates to the Master Plans contain information on progress on the English Learner subgroup and the steps the LEA is taking to ensure there are annual increases in the number or percentage of children making progress in learning English; of children attaining English by the end of the school year; and that the LEA ELL subgroup meets Title I AYP targets in English language arts, and mathematics Guidance on Developing the Five-Year Comprehensive Master Plan.
Goal 2: To provide high-quality professional development to classroom teachers (including teachers in classroom settings that are not the setting of language instruction educational programs), principals, administrators, and other school or community-based organizational personnel.
- The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has formed partnerships with local school systems to provide professional development that focuses on content and instructional strategies in elementary/middle school reading and mathematics as well as highs school English and algebra/data analysis. The intended outcomes is to improve teacher knowledge of both subject matter (based on state standards) and effective instructional strategies for all subgroups including ELLs and to build the capacity of central office staff and school leadership teams.
- To facilitate job embedded professional development for teachers, MSDE offers its training to central office and school based leadership teams from the school systems. During each professional development session offered by MSDE, school based leadership teams develop and adjust plans for sharing information and providing follow-up with their staffs. Classroom teachers who teach English Language Learner students receive the professional development offered by their school leadership teams or district staff.
- MSDE also provides coaching support for leadership teams in schools that are in some form of school improvement. A staff specialist from MSDE is assigned to these schools and supports the leadership team in collaboratively planning with teachers to apply content and instructional strategies.
- Title III provides professional development to local ESL supervisors in the areas of program development and implementation, assessment of ELLs, Curriculum development, and exchange of best practices.
Goal 3: To provide community participation programs, family literacy services, and parent outreach and training activities to ELL children and their families. In 2003 the Maryland’s Parent Advisory Council (M-PAC) was established with the purpose of creating a long-term vision and plan for increasing involvement in public schools. MSDE has already implemented many of the recommendations to include ELL families. Click here.
- In order to facilitate better communication with families, many important documents have been translated by MSDE. These translations are available on the MSDE website for parents and staff working with ELL parents. Families Involved Together (FIT) helps with dissemination of these translations through family involvement coordinators and parent liaisons who work with parents of ELLs.
- Provide parent involvement/School-Parent compact training for Title I school teams: Maryland has hired a full time professional under Title I to provide parent and community outreach focusing on ELL parents. Since January 2008, Title I Office has partnered with MD Parental Information Resource Center (PIRC) to provide Title I school teams (administrators, teachers, parents, liaisons and the district’s Title I Coordinator) a one-day Parent Involvement/School-Parent Compact Training. This training is provided to support LEA’s Title I schools in understanding the NCLB and Title I requirements, “… each school served under this part shall jointly develop with parents for all children served under this part a school-parent compact that outlines how parents, the entire school staff, and students will share the responsibility for improved student academic achievement and the means by which the school and parents will build and develop a
partnership to help children achieve the State’s high standards…” (Parent Involvement NCLB Title I: School-Parent Compact: Section 1118 (d) (1-2) (A-C).