How DPS Supports ESL Student Achievement

  • In accordance to the Strategic Plan- Academic Indicator II, 80% of ELLs will make high growth. Students will be offered a rigorous mainstream curriculum with the necessary support to achieve to their highest potential.

    DPS is committed to supporting our growing ESL population.  We now employ approximately 79 ESL teachers at most of our schools, who provide English instruction, differentiated according to students’ level of English proficiency, based on the WIDA standards, adopted by the state of North Carolina. This instruction is our core service to English Language Learners (ELLs).

    • DPS has included English Language Learners with leveled curriculum to meet their academic needs
    • Encourages participation in school activities, athletics and art opportunities
    • Supplementary tutoring is offered after school
    • The percentage of ELLs in AIG programs has been increasing steadily over the last 3 years

    Support for Content Instruction – Goal 1.2 & Goal 1.5

    Increased collaboration between the ESL and mainstream educators in DPS defines ELL’s plan of work. High schools in DPS offer sheltered content classes.  Sheltered content classes are those where grade level content taught with strategies that strengthen academic language. 

    In addition, our ESL teachers work in collaboration with the DPS Literacy Initiative.  ESL staff members are trained in literacy; LEP strategies are incorporated into literacy trainings; and ESL teachers work hand-in-hand with mainstream teachers, attending literacy workshops as teams.  This ensures that the same subject matter is taught to ESL and mainstream students.

    DPS offers a Spring and Fall session of ESL Certification to classroom/content teachers to equip them with effective strategies to help ELLs. It is an intense course taught on Saturdays by instructors from Duke and North Carolina State University.

    In the effort to make an early start we include Pre-K teachers in our professional development opportunities.  Working with families is another workshop we offer to any school level or district staff that work with ELLs.  Cultural training is included in all trainings from the ESL Department. This is key to schools and their staff understanding the students and families they work with.

    Additional areas of focus

    The ESL department collaborates with other programs that serve ELLs, including Exceptional Children and Pre-K.

    Strategies for ELLs also are being incorporated into DEPOT, an online tool for teachers to develop and share innovative lesson plans.  Additional professional development for mainstream teachers around ESL issues and instruction are planned.  This will include school-based sessions for classroom teachers, along with online courses offered through LEARN NC.

    As with most of our programs, DPS believes collaboration with and support from community groups is crucial to the success of ESL.  We enjoy a strong association with the North Carolina Society of Hispanic Professionals, the High Five Regional Partnership for High School Excellence, the Hispanic Education Initiative and El Centro Hispano.

    ESL Resources

    DPS works to ensure that the ESL Department maintains or surpasses a 50-to-1 student / teacher ratio in all schools.  ESL textbooks have been provided to all schools as of the 2005-06 school year.

    ESL teachers are equipped with supplemental materials, including sets of bilingual dictionaries and picture dictionaries, along with wireless laptop carts at four middle and high schools.

    All ESL staff has also been provided with laptops for instructional purposes.  We continue to seek resources and materials that will support the work of our ESL teachers, along with our mainstream teachers who teach ESL students.

    Support for Parents and Advocates of ESL Students

    Over the past decade, Durham Public Schools has sought to bolster services to parents of ESL students. Our primary goal is to help ELLs graduate with honors and become contributing citizens to society. Below are some of the ways we work with our families:

    Our ESL Resource Center, housed at Staff Development Center, Hillandale Rd., offers professionals who are fluent in Spanish and other languages.  Bilingual staff members help parents through the enrollment process and serve as ongoing parent liaisons. .

    Important parent information is translated into Spanish. This includes handbooks, report cards, board policies, free and reduced lunch forms, Exceptional Children Services forms, and many more.

    DPS employs many full-time Spanish Community Liaisons, who help with translations and other information at the district level. Interpreters are available for all district events.  This includes the DPS Magnet fair, Kindergarten Welcome Sessions, Choice School presentations, Bus Safety Hours, all school open houses and parent conferences.  The ESL program facilitates translation and interpretation services for these events, and for publications.

    ESL Community Liaisons work diligently to bring quality support to our families by developing and conducting workshops in a manner that families can understand. These sessions range from K-5 Literacy and math workshops as well as College Access and scholarship information.


    Durham Public Schools maintains awareness around -- and compliance with – our End-of-Grade and End-of-Course testing modifications, testing waivers and alternate assessments.  We do this by: 

    • Conducting initial and annual testing of English proficiency;
    • Keeping staff members and parents informed of NCLB-mandated Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAO); which include AYPs
    • Maintaining awareness and compliance concerning LEP students and student accountability
    • Inform parents of state testing 


    Maintaining good and current data is critical to the ongoing success of any department, but especially so in ESL.  We work closely with our Information Technology professionals to:

    • Maintain ESL records in each student’s cumulative record folder (Green Card)
    • Collect and report LEP headcount, immigrant count, NOM count, EOG/EOC scores and ACCESS scores and other data in response to state and federal mandates.
    • Address Office of Civil Rights’ (OCR) compliance issues