Garden Grove School District

Garden Grove School District’s Kelly McAmis suggests that school districts considering implementing E.L. Achieve could visit districts, such as Garden Grove, that have had great success with the program. In Garden Groves case, the district more than doubled the percentage of English learners moving into the advanced levels of proficiency.

Garden Grove School District approached E.L. Achieve in 2007 with an interest in improving English proficiency measured by California English Language Development Test (CELDT) scores of its English learners.

The district is the third largest among 28 public school districts in Orange County, CA, with more than 49,900 students, 71% who qualify for free and reduced lunch and 45% who are English learners. It ranks 11th in size in California and is one of the 100 largest districts in the nation, serving more than 21,000 English learners. The district supports 1,851 teachers to improve instruction for English learners.

Kelly shared that for her, the most important aspect of working with E.L. Achieve was the overall vision and district-wide planning in partnership. Garden Grove prides itself on being a highly centralized school district with a very “hands-on” approach to professional development. Its administrators had the desire to tailor any approach to the solution to their own Garden Grove style.

Developing their professional development implementation plan in collaboration with Susana Dutro and E.L. Achieve allowed them to create a vision that had all the right elements in place and was tailored to meet their own district needs. Working as partners, they identified their areas of need and adopted the E.L. Achieve approach, which allows the district to use its own content, or the “what” of the learning, while providing them with the “how” to meet the needs of English learners through effective teaching.

The collaborative partnership with E.L. Achieve encouraged Garden Grove to build capacity within the district to lead the effort. The first year, they trained the professional district staff to be teacher leaders. Then those staff trained the “early adopters” at each of the sites. Each of those teachers received demonstration lessons from the Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs), and then teachers co-planned and co-taught lessons with another teacher. The following year they trained the majority of their teachers following the same approach.

By its third year, the partnerships results spelled success. EL students showed tremendous gains on the CELDT. After two years of E.L. Achieve training, the percentage of students in Beginning/Early Intermediate stages dropped from 30% to 18%, while the Early Advanced/Advanced grew from 23% to 45% within the first three years of implementation. The district goal is to have students proficient in four years, so through this collaboration, it is on track for meeting its objectives.

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