Carroll school district officials are seeing huge increases in the number of students who are English language learners and in the number who have little or no exposure to English.
For the 2015-16 school year, there are more than 220 students who require English as a Second Language (ESL) services, an increase of 60 percent from the previous year.
Five years ago, only 44 students were in the program. Last year, CISD officials added two more ESL teachers to deal with the growing population.
Not only are the numbers growing, but ESL students coming into the district are less likely to know much English.
“It used to be rare for kids to come with no background in English. Now we see more students with little or no English,” said Monica Gattshall, ESL district coordinator.
Gattshall and Mary Johnston, executive director for special programs, gave a report to trustees at the Nov. 16 board meeting.
The most common home languages of Carroll’s ESL students are Spanish at 37 percent, Mandarin at 19 percent and various languages of India at 15 percent. Current ESL students speak 27 different languages.
About 75 percent of the students are served in elementary schools (preschool through fourth grade).
Johnston said that although most of the ESL population is young, many of the ESL middle and high school students did not arrive in the district until after elementary age.
Students typically spend three to four years in Carroll ESL programs before they test out. Nationwide, ESL students tend to be in programs five to seven years.
Gatshall said that district educators are starting to keep students in the program for longer because many arrive with no English and because of the academic rigor of the new state assessment. Educators don’t want kids to struggle because they have gaps in their academic language.
So far this year, 122 CISD teachers have become ESL certified, and many have received additional training.