Today, Holly Niemi shares her ideas on reflecting to prepare for the upcoming school year.
Summer is the perfect time for reflection. This ESL Program Equity Audit is a great tool to guide that reflection in preparation for the coming school year. I came across this meaningful exercise at a professional development I attended this past spring. It came from the text by Alfred and Niño (2011) entitled Leading Academic Achievement for English Language Learners: A Guide for Principals. My ESL colleagues and I found it a facile and enlightening way to view our ESL program and its future direction. The audit is a one-page document that considers six program areas: role of ESL teacher, instructional materials & curriculum, professional development, assessment, ESL parent outreach, and teacher evaluation. This is a wonderful starting point to gauge the access and rigor of an ESL program in light of the demands of the Common Core State Standards. Additionally, the audit was a means to opening communication and collaborating between both ESL teachers and administrators. As a group of ESL teachers, we completed the audit, and then later shared it with our school administration. This audit could be used at both macro and micro levels: it allows for the consideration of the overall effectiveness of a district-wide ESL program or it can be completed at the school or grade team levels. Overall, the audit allows for educators and administrators to prioritize their ESL program’s needs and begin taking action in the focus areas in order to maximize ELLs’ equitable access to the Common Core.