“Raise the Bar” — English Learners in Colorado Thrive Under High Expectations
For years, Mark Thompson, principal of Maplewood Elementary School in Greeley, Colorado, was convinced of the immense potential of his school’s English learners. But he was frustrated by the negative picture that standardized tests painted of them. Indeed, as recently as four years ago, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) classified Maplewood as a low-performing school in need of a Priority Improvement Plan, a rating based on inadequate student academic achievement and growth. “We realized we had to find better ways to get the scholars engaged, to get the content across,” he said.
That was when the Greeley-Evans School District reached out to WestEd for help figuring out how to better support the success of its English learners, who comprise almost one-third of the district’s student population. WestEd worked closely with the district — meeting with educators, administrators, and other stakeholders, reviewing student performance data, and examining district instructional practices — to develop a customized Master Plan for English Learner Success. The plan includes action steps to strategically build each school’s capacity to ensure high-quality instruction for all students, with a particular focus on boosting the academic success of English learners.
The Master Plan is key to ensuring that English learners in the district receive the support they need to thrive. The plan involves an integrated approach to learning in which English learners access standards-aligned academic content, while also receiving language supports and scaffolds to meaningfully make sense of the content.
“It’s about equity,” says Ruth Sebastian, a school and district improvement facilitator at WestEd. “Giving every student access to rigorous, grade-level content and providing them with the supports they need to be successful. There’s no watering down of the curriculum.”
Posted on May 24, 2021