Understanding that English learners are all unique, arriving with varying levels of prior education, socio-economic status, and experiential background, we have endeavored to build a structure that meets the needs of all of our students. We have accomplished this by providing educators with the tools that enable students to reach high levels of academic achievement in our academically competitive environment.
Over the past decade, Lexington Public Schools has benefited from various initiatives that have contributed to the current environment. First, the district has committed itself to building the capacity of its educators through its professional development structure. This enabled educators to continuously improve their instructional practice by learning strategies,technologies and resources that improve student learning.
The district has built a culture of professional learning communities (PLC), providing time in each educator’s schedule to participate. This is a required component of each educator’s professional growth plan, and has lead to improvements in instructional practice and curriculum.
There is a strong emphasis on academic vocabulary (discrete words, structures, and discourse) that enables students to learn content, even as they learn the language. This is based on the notion that students must learn the “language” of each discipline in order to raise their level of comprehension.
Lastly, the district has committed to improving the instruction of writing through the implementation of Writer’s Workshop,developed by the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. This training, provided to all K-5 teachers (including English language development teachers), ensures the use of common language, strategies, and rubrics across the curriculum.
Each of these steps supports a structure in which English learners consistently rank at the top of the state in both progress toward, and the attainment of English proficiency.