English Language Learners (ELL)

Wilmette is known to celebrate a culturally diverse community. As part of this diversity, the community is home to many families speaking numerous languages. In fact, Wilmette schools serve students from over twenty different language backgrounds. To assist students who are not native speakers, Wilmette Public Schools has established The English Language Learner Program (ELL). The ELL program is supported in part by a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education. The purpose of the program is to provide English support in all academic subjects to aid in the transition into all academic content.

A certified ELL teacher screens all students who complete the Home Language Survey with any language other than English for English proficiency. K-8 students will take the MODEL screening assessment. The screening results will determine the services each child will recieve.













Knows and uses minimal social and academic language with visual and graphic support.

Knows and uses some social English and general academic language with visual and graphic support.

Knows and uses social English and some specific academic language with visual and graphic support.

Knows and uses social English and some technical academic language.

Knows and uses social English and academic language working with grade level material.

Knows and uses social and academic language at the highest level measured by ACCESS® test.


In kindergarten through fourth grade, ELLs get assistance in learning English from a certified ESL teacher through in-class support, individualized or small group pull-out activities. Activities include phonemic awareness, content and social vocabulary, cultural awareness, speaking and listening practice, and concrete connections to classroom instruction. Classroom teachers may modify classroom assignments or assessments with the advice of the ELL teacher.

Most ELLs in grades 5-8 receive English language support by a teacher with ESL certification during the period other students attend foreign language classes. In-class support may also be available through paraprofessional teacher assistants or the ELL teacher. Newcomer ELL students may receive intensive English assistance for multiple periods a day. Also, Developing level students may be in an intervention program, which is designed to teach reading and writing at each student’s level.

Student assessment is a regular part of the District 39 School Improvement Plan. Students are regularly evaluated to monitor progress within the curriculum. This type of assessment helps teachers individualize instruction during the school year. In addition, the District provides annual assessments. The annual assessment assists in determining the best placement for the next school year.

Every student grades 3-8 who reports speaking a language other than English at home and qualifies for ELL services must take the ACCESS in January or February. This test is a measure of how second language speakers are progressing in their acquisition of English in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The results of the test are reported in June. Any ELL student who scores a 4.2 on both Writing and Reading and a 5.0 on the Composition are automatically exited from the ELL program. They may continue to receive services, though, if the teachers or parents believe it is necessary. Kindergarten ELLs are assessed with the MODEL tool instead of the ACCESS.

The State Board of Education also requires all students to participate in the State Assessment known as the PARCC in March. All students enrolled in the ELL program must take the math, reading, and science portions every year. There is a one-year exemption for the reading test for beginning level students.

For any questions regarding the ELL program, please contact Douglas Wilson wilsond@wilmette39.org.

5-8 ELL Flyer


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