The organization of Liberty’s Promise is asking that $142,000 be added to the MCPS budget. This amount would be used by Liberty’s Promise to support ESOL students with orientation and counseling at six high schools. What resources are currently available to schools to support newly arrived students? How will the reorganization of our ESOL program and additional resources better support ESOL students at the high school level?
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) currently provides funding for 9.5 English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) professional counselor positions and 10.2 ESOL transition counselor positions to address the academic and counseling needs of ESOL students at all levels. In addition, a .7 ESOL transition counselor position supports the Students Engaged in Pathways to Achievement program at Thomas Edison High School of Technology. The ESOL transition counselors (support level positions) provide counseling services to students who are English Language Learners (ELL) in Grades pre-K through Grade 12 and assist ELL students with understanding and adjusting to the American school and community, acquiring the sociocultural skills to develop positive self-concepts that are necessary to succeed in MCPS and in American society. In addition, they help students gain a greater understanding of their cultural origin and identity as well as their changing role within the family, determine students availability for learning by assessing post-traumatic stress they may be suffering from due to exposure to traumatic events in their childhood such as war, famine, illnesses, sexual or physical abuse, domestic violence, grief and loss issues, migration issues as well as current family reunification issues, and assist families and school staff with understanding the impact of acculturation in the lives of the students.
The ESOL counselors (professional-level positions) provide a comprehensive developmental program of guidance and counseling to assist ESOL students in the area of acculturation, academic achievement, career/educational decision making, and personal and social development and act as consultant in this regard to school staff, parents, and community members. These positions primarily serve high school students. The primary focus is to provide support to newly arrived ESOL students and ESOL students with interrupted formal education enrolled in the Multidisciplinary Educational Training and Support (METS) program in all high schools with ESOL centers and METS programs.
Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, the ESOL counseling services are reorganized to become part of the new Office of Student Services and Engagement. Services provided to ESOL students will be aligned to the strategic priorities of the system to fully engage all students, including newly arrived ESOL students and METS students, to meet systemwide expectations for college and career readiness. The new office currently is in the process of outlining these strategic priorities and strategies to address the academic and social emotional needs of this diverse group of students.