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Comprehensive Program for ELLs

Peekskill City School District, Peekskill, New York
Peekskill City School District
New York
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ELLs gained new ground when Peekskill High School in New York created bilingual classes.

Peekskill City School District, which had lacked any bilingual classes in high school or middle school, created an ELL council complete with stakeholders from the community in the 2015-16 school year.

District leaders then visited schools in several states to see other programs at work. And they committed to finding bilingual teachers to have classes taught in Spanish.

Students still receive ESL support and instruction in their native language in content classes. While building the bilingual piece, the district increased staffing and implemented a newcomer’s class in high school where students new to the country are introduced to U.S. schooling.

Attendance has increased by over 10 percent and more ELLs take New York Regent’s exams. The ELL graduation rate also jumped—from 17 percent to 50 percent. And twice as many ELL students are staying in school and learning trades in local voc-tech programs.

To start your own program:

  • Visit as many schools as you can. You don’t need to start from scratch if other programs are already a little ahead of you.
  • Have a clear objective about what you are looking to do. That way you can be targeted in your approach. Start small and build your program from there.