October 12, 2020 — Midland ISD's English Learners department is celebrating impressive achievements for its students.
A total of 185 students passed the English language proficiency assessment this year, meaning they can move out of bilingual instruction, and into English-only instruction with the rest of the student body. Last year, only 49 students met the English proficiency criteria.
To exit the English Learners (EL) program and participate in traditional English-language schooling, the students must achieve the level of "Advanced High" in four separate categories: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing.
"You have to be proficient in English in every category," said EL Director Lety Amalla. "This is a very difficult test to get through. We make sure the kids and their parents know the importance and take it seriously."
The numbers were particularly impressive among elementary students, where 102 passed the test, compared to only 21 last year. Administrators say it's critical that students advance out of the EL program by the time they begin junior high.
"This will enable those students more academic opportunities, as well as the ability to improve on their English by being around other English-speaking students," said EL Specialist Ana Sanchez. "Junior high is a critical time especially for those who have now been in the EL program since kindergarten."
EL students typically are tested to exit the program in the spring, but the TEA granted a waiver to test students in the fall due to COVID.
"We are really proud of each of these kids," said Amalla. "It took a lot of work and dedication to prepare them for this."