The Title III Program is a United States federal grant program to improve education. It began as part of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
Part A of Title III is officially known as the English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act. Title III is a part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 proposed and signed into law by the Obama W. Bush Administration. It is specifically targeted to benefit Limited English Proficient (LEP) children and immigrant youth. The Act states that LEP students must not only attain English proficiency but simultaneously meet the same academic standards as their English-speaking peers in all content areas. Federal funding is provided to assist State Education Agencies (SEAs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in meeting these requirements.
SEAs and LEAs are expected to use Title III funding to create or further develop language instruction courses that help LEP students meet academic standards. The LEAs and SEAs who receive Title III funding are responsible for the yearly progress of their students with respect to development of language proficiency as well as meeting their grade-level academic standards. LEP students are measured against annual development objectives in order to receive funding. SEAs and LEAs are held accountable for the progress of LEP and immigrant students through annual measurable achievement outcomes (AMAOs): the number of LEP students making sufficient progress in English acquisition, attaining English proficiency, and meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Funding is typically used towards language instruction programs; however, funding may be used for a variety of purposes, including alternative bilingual education programs and professional development for teachers.Funding is also allocated for teaching English to the parents and communities of LEP children.
The amount of funding each state receives is determined by formula derived from the number of LEP and immigrant students in that state. The number of LEP students in each state is determined using information provided by the US census as well as yearly state-issued surveys. The grant is divided into subgrants made available to LEAs within the state. In order for an LEA within a given state to receive Title III funding, it must reapply each school year, providing data with respect to the size and progress of the LEP population.
While the main purpose of Title III regulations and funding are to ensure language proficiency and on grade-level academic performance of LEP students, there are also regulations regarding parent communication. Any LEA that receives Title III funding is obligated to inform families and communities of LEP and immigrant children about their ESL programming and how they can assist in their child’s progress. In addition, all schools are required to provide appropriate communication with all parents and guardians regardless of their native language and the percentage of non-English parents are a part of the school community.
Tools for Success with English Language Learners
Because nearly all teachers now face the challenge of effectively instructing English language learners, every teacher should have a repertoire of powerful tools that focus on students who do not speak English as their first language. These tools can help ELL students grasp information, process learning more effectively, and ultimately achieve high levels of success. Not surprisingly, teachers who use these tools with their ELL students often find that native English speakers also benefit.
The following tools are simple yet powerful strategies that teachers can immediately implement in their classrooms. The information about these tools comes from the School Improvement Network’s video program titled “Every Teacher – A Teacher of English Language Learners” (2008).
Make Accommodations to Your Regular Lesson
By making accommodations to their lessons, teachers can more effectively reach English language learners. Accommodations can include greater use of repetition, working with partners or small groups, using real world examples, and making directions extremely clear. The purpose of accommodations is to make the learning more meaningful and engaging to all students.
Sacha Gan, a language arts teacher at Mesa View Middle School in Huntington Beach, CA, makes accommodations when she begins an activity. To ensure students understand instructions, she uses choral response, repeats ideas several times, and has students repeat instructions in their own words. When presenting a new concept, she asks students to think of examples and non-examples of the idea, which helps make abstract concepts more concrete.
Chunk and Chew
Jo Gusman, an expert in teaching English language learners and the founder of New Horizons in Education, developed a strategy she calls Chunk and Chew. To use this strategy, teachers examine their written lesson plan and ask themselves how many steps of the lesson they can deliver in the first eleven to seventeen minute chunk. They continue to break the lesson in these brain-friendly chunks. When delivering the lesson, teachers give students one chunk at a time. In between each chunk, students are given “chew time,” otherwise known as processing time, which allows them to digest the chunk of information they just received. This method ensures that students have a grasp on the learning before more is given.
Help Students See the Big Picture
ELL students do better if they can see the big picture first, or an overview of the whole concept, before learning the details. When the instruction is designed to go from whole to part and then back to whole, students will grasp the learning.
“We want to frontload the students with information,” said Brenda Ward, ESL Program Director at Frankfort Community Schools in Frankfort, IN. “Show the movie first, take the field trip first, give them the whole picture. If we can give them a picture of what it is all about first, then break it into parts, and finally give them the big picture again, they get it.”
Build Background Knowledge
When beginning a new lesson or unit, it’s important to build background knowledge and meaning. One way to build background knowledge is to have students write down or talk about what they already know about a topic. Michael Reynolds, a social studies teacher at Frankfort High School in Frankfort, IN, uses drawing to help establish prior knowledge. When teaching a lesson about the US Space Program, he asked his students to begin by drawing a space shuttle, which bridged the language gap and established understanding.
Another way to build background knowledge is to relate the here and now to the academic concept being taught. Relating new ideas to things that students are familiar with in their daily lives helps them build understanding. As teachers move through a lesson, they should continue to repeat and emphasize important concepts. Using repetition helps students establish connections between background knowledge and new learning.
Use Visual Tools
English language learners may not understand all they hear, but their understanding will be enhanced if teachers use lots of visual tools. Visual tools include pictures, charts, graphs, graphic organizers, videos, symbolic representations, pictographs, modeling, body language, gestures, and role playing. Teachers need to be prepared to use visual tools when they notice that students are having difficulty understanding words alone. Visual tools can also help students demonstrate their learning; to check for understanding, teachers can ask students to quickly draw a concept on a white board.
With increasingly high standards for ELL students, it is more important than ever that all teachers know how to be effective with English language learners. These five tools, along with other research-based strategies, can empower teachers in their work with non-native speakers and ensure success for every student.
Helping ELL Students: Links for Adults
Reading Rockets – Downloadable booklet with suggestions for activities for parents and children to do together (in English and en Español).
Especially for Parents (English and Español) – Information from the U.S. Government for parents on such topics as preparing my child for school, helping my child read, my child’s special needs, and college for my child.
National Parent Teacher Association (English and Español) – Family learning activities to do at home, articles on topics such as testing and report cards, and suggestions such as “100 Ways For Parents to Be More Involved in Their Child’s Education”.
Google – Websites in Spanish (en Español).
TransACT Communications – We use TransACT to translate important school documents.