, Salem, MA


November 23, 2012

Column: Changes on the horizon in Salem schools


What types of ESL services has Salem provided?

Several types of ESL services are provided to K-5 ELL students in Salem Public Schools. One type is “push-in” services, where the ELL teachers push in to the mainstream classroom to teach ELL students in small groups. Another type is “pull-out” services, where the ELL teacher pulls out a small group of ELL students to teach them in a small setting. Both these types of services are appropriate in districts with a low enrollment of ELL students, and for some students. However, Salem is now considered to be a high-incident district, since the ELL enrollment is currently 582, or 11 percent of the student population. In order to reach all students and to be compliant with the law, the district has looked at other models to increase services for ELL students.

How have programs changed?

As a result of the visits to other districts and the discussions that followed, a major change this year has been the implementation of Sheltered English Instruction classes for English-language learners in grades three, four and five at the Bentley School. The teachers in SEI classes focus on building and developing students’ social and academic language for beginning-level to low-intermediate-level ELL students. The vision is to expand the SEI model in the district and better provide students with the language and academic foundation they need to be successful in the mainstream classrooms.

How about older English-language learners, like those at Salem High?

Salem High School has also seen programmatic changes. New this year, the SIFE program (Students with Interrupted Formal Education) is being offered. These are students who (for economic, political or family reasons) have experienced schooling that is either limited or has been interrupted, and therefore they are behind grade level even in their own languages. The students in the SIFE program receive intense literacy and numeric instruction to develop their skills in math, English and Spanish. This program will provide students with stronger literacy and numeric skills they need in order to complete courses for graduation requirements.

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