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Integrating ELLs in to Whole School Reform

While I write often for Education Week about programs tailored for English-language learners, I also keep an eye out for how programs aimed at all students in a school include English-language learners. Thus, I consider it to be a good thing that a middle school in Burien, Wash., is incorporating English-language learners in its implementation of a new approach to discipline.

The school instituted Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, which provides different levels of responses to students who are acting out or not engaging in school. The approach starts out with a common set of expectations for behaviors and rewards for all students, and adds interventions for students who need extra support.

The story about PBIS, a tiered approach to discipline, was published today as part of a special report in EdWeek about response to intervention in schools.

As part of my reporting for the story, I observed Kumar Teve, a 13-year-old English-language learner from the Samoan Islands, for about half a day. Kumar is a boisterous, friendly 7th grader who seemed to enjoy learning. But when he got frustrated in class, he became loud and demanding of his teachers' time.

I suspect that some of Kumar's frustrations are related to the challenge for him of reading and writing on grade level in English. He speaks English fluently but takes one period of English as a second language each day in addition to a regular English/language arts class. Kumar is among 20 students in his middle school identified as needing some extra positive interaction with teachers each day to stay on track. And for him, the intervention seemed to be working.

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