Serving Our ELL Students

You may have heard the terms ESL (English as a second language) or ELL (English language learners) previously, but let’s talk about the funding and other details.

While you are aware that we have more than 86,000 students in Jeffco, you may not be aware that Jeffco Schools serves 128 languages spoken by students within our schools, 129 if you count sign language. Our ESL program in Jeffco serves 5,289 students.

While ELL students receive both federal and state funding, they have had an 8% decrease in funding over the past 3 years. 20% of their budget comes from state funds and 2% comes from federal funds.

Jeffco has some extremely impressive programs in dual language, such as the dual language immersion program at Foster Elementary. Many families opt their children into this school to receive the benefit of learning a foreign language early in life. Upon visiting Foster, you will notice that all students in this school are thriving and their PTA is one of the most inclusive we’ve seen, with meetings in both English and Spanish to ensure all parents can participate.

For dual language programs in Jeffco, 1200 students are being served by this choice. “Learning in two languages requires students to stay flexible as they work with challenging content in Reading, Writing, Science, Social Studies, and Math. Students are regularly asked to explain, justify, evaluate, or synthesize what they’ve learned.”

73% of the students served in the ESL program have limited English proficiency. 50% of these students take 4 years to reach English language fluency. This is quite an accomplishment, imagine attending school where everything is in a language other than your own first language, while also being expected to keep up with your peers in all subjects as you learn the language. Thinking of a math class alone brings most people to tears, imagine figuring this out while the instruction and direction are not in your primary language.

A few facts about the ESL program:

  • Jeffco has seen a 13% increase in the number of ELLs over the last 11 years.
  • Almost 100 refugee students enrolled last year.
  • Only 15% of ELLs were born outside the U.S.
  • The top 5 languages spoken are Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese.
  • Only 27% of ELLs are new to English or just beginning to learn English.
  • An additional 3700 students are former ELLs who are now English proficient
  • In Jeffco, former ELLs outperform all other subgroups academically, including Gifted and Talented students.

These facts certainly speak to the success of our Jeffco ESL program!

To increase and encourage family engagement for these students as well as providing a community service, Jeffco also offers an Adult ESL program for a fee of $50.

Another reason to be proud of our Jeffco Schools! Thanks to our staff who run these spectacular programs!