Archive for the ‘Position Statement’ category

Position Statement on FDOE’s Proposed Pathways to Endorsement in ESOL and Reading

September 27th, 2012

(Approved by the SSTESOL Board of Directors, Fall 2012)

Click here for a PDF version of this Position Statement

The Sunshine State TESOL organization represents ESOL professionals in the field of teaching English language learners.  Its mission is to provide educators access to professional development, resources, and interaction as well as to provide leadership and advocacy in language policy issues. In order to ensure equal access to quality instruction, we need knowledgeable and skilled teachers working with the 243,000 English language learners (ELLs) enrolled in Florida’s K-12 public schools. The Florida Consent Decree and subsequent amendments stress the importance of professional development for all teachers of ELLs.

The proposed pathways to obtain a Reading endorsement for ESOL teachers and an ESOL endorsement for reading teachers acknowledges that the revised teacher standards for each endorsement have undergone some key updates and changes.  The Reading endorsement has added significant reference to linguistic and cultural diversity (including ELLs) and the ESOL endorsement has added significant reference to literacy, including reading and writing development.

However, the SSTESOL Board opposes the proposed pathways on the following grounds. First, the Florida Board of Education placed into rule the Consent Decree’s requirement for 300 hours of professional development for Endorsement in ESOL. State Board rule also requires 300 professional development hours for the Reading Endorsement. The proposed pathways will reduce the number of required training hours for each of the two endorsements to 150 hours. This could lead to teachers with only partial preparation in ESOL providing Reading and ESOL instruction to ELLs throughout the state.  Second, the plan for professional development that has been presented is vague and does not specify that FDOE or the “statewide committee of experts” will ensure that instructors teaching courses for the Reading or ESOL endorsement will have sufficient background knowledge to effectively address issues related to both reading and ELLs. It is our belief that only specialists in TESOL should deliver ESOL professional development and only specialists in Reading should deliver Reading professional development.

Third, the pathways are proposed for all ESOL or Reading Endorsed teachers, regardless of whether they completed an endorsement based on the old or new standards in their field.  From the proposed standards and competencies, it is clear that the Committee who worked on this used the NEW standards to determine what teachers need to add to their endorsement. Consequently, teachers who have obtained their ESOL or reading endorsement that were designed to meet the OLD standards need MORE than what is proposed and not the same. This process of grandfathering teachers will be detrimental for all students, but especially for ELLs throughout the state, and is in clear violation of the intent of the Florida Consent Decree. We therefore request that the proposed policy be rejected.

In recognition that this issue has been under discussion for several years and that a policy is needed to address the reading/ESOL endorsement, we propose that, at minimum, the policy should be revised to align with the intent of the Florida Consent Decree and in no way minimize what teachers need to know and be able to do when working with ELLs.  This would require a policy that would:

(a) apply only to those teachers who have obtained ESOL/Reading endorsements that were

designed to meet the new ESOL/Reading endorsement standards;

(b) include a specific plan for professional development and credentialing requirements for instructors; and

(c) include a specific plan to provide districts and teacher educators with sample modules designed to meet the

additional required ESOL or Reading standards.

Share

Position Statement on Qualifications for Teachers who Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages in Florida Schools

February 6th, 2010

(Approved by the SSTESOL Board of Directors, Fall 2003)

Sunshine State Teachers of English To Speakers of Other Languages (SSTESOL) of Florida is a professional organization dedicated to the teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages.  The mission of SSTESOL is to provide educators access to professional development, resources, and interactions, and to provide leadership and advocacy in language policy issues.

Issue: Presently the Florida State Department of Education does not make a distinction between teacher certification applicants who achieve eligibility for the ESOL endorsement by completing an ESOL infused program and those applicants who have completed a full ESOL Endorsement program (five courses or 300 hours in-service points) as specified in the Florida Consent Decree of 1990.  The state considers all applicants who receive either ESOL Endorsement equally eligible to teach ESOL students.

Issue: As a result of changes in how candidates are eligible for certification in Florida, applicants who pass an area of specialization exam become eligible for a certificate in that area.  This recent ruling has impacted the field of TESOL, since presently any applicant who passes the state certification ESOL test becomes certifiable as an ESOL specialist.  This creates a potential for inadequately prepared teachers to be assigned in primary language development roles with responsibilities for ESOL students.

Position: SSTESOL supports the rights of English language learners to be taught by qualified and trained ESOL specialists.  ESOL specialists are those professional educators who have received extensive preparation in TESOL provided in a full ESOL Endorsement program, as outlined in the Florida Consent Decree of 1990.

Further, SSTESOL does not consider graduates from ESOL infused programs to be ESOL specialists.  ESOL infused programs are designed to prepare teachers who are qualified to provide for the needs of English language learners in mainstream classrooms; these programs are not designed to prepare ESOL specialists.

Furthermore, SSTESOL does not consider candidates who have simply passed the ESOL certification test qualified to serve as ESOL specialists.

Rationale: Florida has the third largest population of English language learners in the U.S.  The LULAC et al v. SBE Consent Decree (1990) sets forth specific ESOL endorsement requirements for instructional and administrative personnel.  The following are the requirements for the ESOL endorsement as outlined in the Consent Decree:

  • 300 in-service hours (required for Elementary, English, and Special Education teachers who teach the language arts component) OR five 3-credit hour courses, taught at the university level as part of a state approved program;
  • The 300 in-service hours must include 60 in-service points in the following five specific areas: methods of teaching ESOL, curriculum in ESOL, testing and evaluation in ESOL, applied linguistics and TESOL, and cross-cultural understanding.  If this requirement is met via the five university courses, a three-credit hour course is required in each of these areas.

Although the Consent Decree did not impose any direct requirements on institutions of higher education, educators involved in teacher preparation programs through out the state, have held the position that graduates from teacher preparation programs should be fully prepared to teach English language learners in the regular classrooms.  Thus, numerous teacher preparation programs have  become ESOL infused models.  In these programs TESOL standards are infused into the general methods’ courses and clinical experiences.  In addition, two (2) or more ESOL stand alone courses have been added.    It is the position of SSTESOL that the intent of these programs is not to produce ESOL specialists but to produce classroom teachers who can meet the needs of English language learners in mainstream classrooms.

The Florida State Department of Education ruled that by the year 2004, all graduates from teacher preparation programs that lead to initial certification must also be eligible for the ESOL endorsement.  The universities that had not submitted programs leading to the ESOL endorsement prior to this ruling are rapidly doing so.  Many are employing infused models. Although a well designed and implemented infused program can provide basic ESOL preparation for mainstream classroom teachers, ESOL specialists should be required to complete, at minimum, a State Approved ESOL Endorsement program (five courses or 300 hours of in-service).

Share

Position Statement on Language Policy

February 6th, 2010

(Approved by the SSTESOL Board of Directors September 28,2002)

Sunshine State Teachers of English To Speakers of Other Languages of Florida (SSTESOL) is a professional organization dedicated to the teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages.  The mission of SSTESOL is to provide educators access to professional development, resources, and interactions and to provide leadership and advocacy in language policy issues.

Issue: …language belongs to each one of us, to the flower-seller as much as to the professor … language can generate an astounding amount of heat.  What is it about language that makes people so passionate, and so curious?  The answer is that there is almost no aspect of our lives that is not touched by language.  We live in and by language. *

* Source:    McCrum, R., W. Cran, and R. McNeil (1986) The Story of English: A Companion to the PBS Television Series. New York: Viking Penguin Inc.

As language professionals we frequently witness the personal and passionate reactions to English language teaching and bilingual issues in our school systems that might be reflective of the McCrum, Cran and McNeil quote as stated above. We believe that occasionally these personal reactions can impact school policies or legislation that is academically destructive for English language learners.  “English Only” laws, limitations placed upon the amount of time any language learner can be served in an instructional program, lack of support for bilingual programs are a few of these issues.  Thus, SSTESOL takes a position here on language policy that is reflective of issues relative to language as an integral part of the life of all human beings.

Position: The Board of SSTESOL supports in its entirety, the California Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages’ (CATESOL) position statement on language policy. (Used with permission.)  Adaptations appear in brackets.  The original CATESOL statement can be read at http://www.catesol.org/langpol.html

[SSTESOL] is committed to:

  • respecting the diverse linguistic and cultural heritages of non-native speakers of English,
  • promoting professional competence and professional standards in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages or dialects,
  • monitoring relevant educational policy,
  • representing the needs of non-native speakers of English and their teachers to decision-making bodies such as school districts and the [Florida]state legislature, and
  • advancing the professional field of teaching English to speakers of other languages or dialects of English.

In implementing these commitments:

We [SSTESOL] affirm that language is a major source of individual, personal and cultural identity since it is central to intellectual development and socialization plus basic to learning and concept formation.

Therefore:

  • We support language policies which meet the needs of a pluralistic society in an era of global interdependence.
  • We support public policies and actions which further understanding of the importance of language and culture in the education process.
  • We recognize the rights of all individuals to preserve and foster their linguistic and cultural origins and to maintain their native languages.
  • We affirm the rights of non-native speakers of English to use languages other than English.
  • We support the right of all non-native speakers of English to have access to educational programs in which to learn to function in the common language of communication, English.
  • We support the study of languages other than English especially for native English speakers.
  • We affirm that all [Floridians] have rights to government services and equal appropriate and fair treatment by the law regardless of English proficiency.

We [SSTESOL] advocate the respect and wide-spread acceptance of other languages as well as English.

Therefore:

  • We affirm that non-native speakers are entitled to positive affirmation of their linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
  • We advocate promoting multilingualism as a positive value to individuals and society.
  • We advocate that schools develop and encourage the potential for multilingualism in students.

We affirm the right of non-native speakers of English in [Florida] to have access to educational equity through adequate and appropriate English as a second language an content area instruction programs in both public and private sectors.

This includes the right to:

  • participate in a program that adequately assesses language proficiency through tests normed on non-native speakers of English and other appropriate assessments such as academic performance and motivation.
  • participate in programs taught by teachers with training and credentials appropriate for working with linguistically and culturally diverse students.
  • participate in a coherent curriculum using materials appropriate to the needs and levels of learners
  • participate in programs for a sufficient time to develop English and academic competencies needed for personal, social, educational and career use.
Share

Position Statement on Bilingual Education*

February 6th, 2010

(Approved by the SSTESOL Board of Directors, January 15, 2005)

Sunshine State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages of Florida (SSTESOL) is a professional organization dedicated to the teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages. The mission of SSTESOL is to provide educators access to professional development, resources, and interactions and to provide leadership and advocacy in language policy issues.

Issue: Recent English-only legislative efforts and responses to current federal policies, such as No Child Left Behind, demonstrate pervasive misconceptions about the nature of quality bilingual education and its place in the field of TESOL. Not only do these policies neglect to take recent findings about second language acquisition into consideration, they also ignore the positive outcomes of well-implemented bilingual programs (Brisk, 1998; Thomas & Collier, 2002). As a result, valuable linguistic, economic, and cultural resources are being lost at a rapid rate.

With its growing language minority population, Florida could be a leader in innovative practices to exploit the linguistic and cultural diversity that exist in the states. Instead, the state has adopted a predominantly English-only policy to meet the needs of English language learners (ELLs). As evidence by the small number of bilingual programs being implemented in various counties, bilingual education remains largely invisible in the state.

Position: It is the position of the Board of SSTESOL that school districts should develop and implement quality bilingual education programs for English language learners and heritage language programs whenever such programs are feasible and desired by the community. A quality bilingual education program has the following defining features:

  • Additive bilingualism as a desired outcome
  • High academic standards
  • Strong, supportive, and knowledgeable leadership
  • Quality teaching staff
  • Bilingual & bicultural curriculum
  • Learner-centered approaches to teaching and learning, including on-going assessment and redesigning of programs.
  • Strong parental/community involvement

(Source: Brisk, 1998; Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000).

In addition, quality bilingual programs have an equal-status position in their schools and have equitable access to resources. To reach these goals, quality bilingual programs imply a long-term commitment and program implementation. The term ‘bilingual education’ should be reserved for programs that meet these criteria. Early-exit or transitional bilingual education programs are therefore excluded from this definition.

Two-way immersion (TWI) program are one example of a bilingual program that aims at high levels of bilingualism and biliteracy for all students. Its dual target population of native English-speakers and native minority-language speakers has the potential of creating optimal second language learning environments and opportunities for the development of cross-cultural competence. Developmental or maintenance bilingual education and bilingual education programs with a heritage language component are other examples.

Therefore:

  • SSTESOL affirms the right of bilingual children to use and develop their native language and cultural resources they bring to school.
  • SSTESOL advocates approaches to administrative leadership preparation that include the development of a knowledge base of the premises of quality bilingual education and the conditions for effective implementation.
  • SSTESOL advocates that the Florida Department of Education, in collaboration with districts and university teacher preparation programs, develop a bilingual teacher certification option.
  • SSTESOL proposes that, in collaboration with the Florida Department of Education, a Task Force be established to document existing bilingual education practices and to develop a plan to strengthen such practices and develop new bilingual education programs with the support of state and/or federal funds.

*A comment on terminology: After much debate, we have chosen the more generic term “bilingual education” to describe the programs we advocate for bilingual children. We avoid the use of “dual language instruction” because of its current narrow interpretation as two-way immersion (TWI) programs rather than a term with wider applicability. While we are aware of the public’s perceptions of the term bilingual education, we feel that it best describes the programs at issue in this position statement.

References

Brisk, M.E. (1998). Bilingual education: From compensatory to quality schooling. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Cloud, N., Genesee, F., & Hamayan, E. (2000). Dual language instruction. A handbook for enriched education. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

Thomas, W. P., & Collier, V. (2002). A national study on the school effectiveness for language minority students’ long-term academic achievement. Final Report: Project 1.1. Santa Cruz, CA: Center for Excellence on Education, Diversity, & Excellence.

Share

Position Statement on Associate Degree Credit for Community College EAP Courses

February 6th, 2010

(Approved by the SSTESOL Board of Directors, September 28, 2002)

Sunshine State Teachers of English To Speakers of Other Languages (SSTESOL) of Florida is a professional organization dedicated to the teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages.  The mission of SSTESOL is to provide educators access to professional development, resources, and interactions and to provide leadership and advocacy in language policy issues.

Issue: Many community colleges across the state are offering the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses within the Florida Department of Education Statewide Common Course Numbering System (SCNS).  These courses are offered to degree-seeking students and/or to students who have completed at least a high school diploma but lack near-native proficiency in English.  A series of six levels of course descriptions are included within the SCNS class prefix for EAP.

It was recommended by the Faculty Discipline Committee on English as a Second Language (ESL), who wrote the EAP course series under the auspices of the SCNS, that the upper two levels of courses (the 1500 and 1600 levels) carry college-credit towards the associate degree.  This recommendation was also endorsed by the Florida Community College Council on Academic Affairs as noted in the Minutes of their meeting on September 30, 1999.

Currently, a lack of consistency exists across the state regarding the awarding of associate degree credit for the recommended EAP course series.  Some institutions offer credit for their more advanced EAP courses, while others do not.  Those that do not offer credit towards the associate degree for any EAP courses have categorized all EAP courses within the College-prep/remedial levels.

Position: SSTESOL supports the awarding of credit towards the associate degree for the 1500 and 1600 level of the EAP course series as recommended by the Faculty Discipline Committee on ESL.

Rationale:

  • the EAP courses are rigorous, academic courses in English comparable to advanced foreign language courses for native speakers of English;
  • a lack of proficiency in a new language is not comparable to a lack of academic skill in one’s native language;
  • skills courses in the college-prep series within the Florida SCSN system are designed for native speakers who are not working at college level and are not comparable to EAP courses;
  • among students enrolled in EAP courses are those who have earned both undergraduate and advanced degrees from their home countries and seek cognitively demanding collegiate courses in English in order to acquire sufficient English proficiency to practice their professions in the U.S.;
  • receiving credit for advanced EAP courses increases motivation and student retention.
Share