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Jaimie Cogua

Coordinator of EL, Dual Language, Migrant and Refugee Education

(531) 299-9405


English Learners Information

Mission and Philosophy

The English Learners program responds to the needs of English language learners in an effort to provide optimal educational opportunities.

· English Learner teachers design lessons to foster students' ability to read, write, speak, and understand academic English.

· Students learn English language while learning academic content through sheltered instruction practices such as scaffolding and interaction.

· The English Learner program promotes a culturally responsive learning environment where students' first language and cultural identity are nurtured.

District English Language Learner/Refugee Report 2015-16 present to BOE-       highlight and click for pdf file

7,800 current English Language Learners participate in the English Learner program in grades K-12.

English Learner services have been provided to over 15, 000 of the K-12 student population.

The English Learner program in OPS has grown more than 380% over the last 18 years. There was an 11.3% increase in students served from 2012-13 to 2013-14. This increase is due to the implementation of NDE's Rule 15, an influx of refugee students, and growth of the incoming kindergarten class.

There are approximately 20,651 students in the district who speak more than 108 different languages other than English in the home, regardless of EL status.

There are over 2,400 refugee students in OPS coming from 12 different countries. The number of refugees is up 84% over the last five years with the largest growth coming from Southeast Asian countries.

Omaha Public Schools uses the NDE's guidelines for identifying English Language learners for participation in the English Learner program. All new K-12 families enrolling in an OPS school will complete a Home Language Survey to identify students who speak another language other than English. Students who have been identified with another language will be given the Pre-Language Assessment Scales (Kindergartners and first semester 1st graders) or the Language Assessment Scales (students in grades 1-12) to evaluate their knowledge of the English language. Students qualify based on their demonstrated language proficiency on the assessment. After testing is completed the parent or guardian is notified of the results and a parent consent form is provided. After consent to participate in the English Learner program you will be assigned to a English Learner staff member(s) will create a support plan based on the students' needs.

English Learner Program Review: Written Report  


March 26, 2019  


Submitted by: Jaimie Cogua, Coordinator EL, Dual Language, Migrant and Refugee Education

Program Goals

The OPS EL Program focuses on teaching academic English language proficiency through a guaranteed and viable curriculum aligned to the ELP standards.  We believe that all students need opportunities to experience authentic literacy to build academic language that will prepare them for college, career and life.

Our program focus includes:

What We Teach

    • Academic English Language Proficiency through Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum: ELP standards highlight and amplify critical language of grade-appropriate standards

How We Teach

    • Content and Language Learning Goals (Objectives)
    • Gradual Release of Instruction with Checks for Understanding

Authentic Literacy

    • Building Academic Language through Speaking, Writing, Reading, and Listening

Summary of Review Process

The Omaha Public Schools review process involves ongoing review and attention to compliance with Rule 15.  The EL Leadership team includes: EL Teacher Leaders/Teacher Trainer, Refugee Specialist, Dual Language Supervisor, and EL Supervisor/TLC Administrator.

The EL Leadership team meets on a monthly basis to review Rule 15 compliance, current EL data provided by and in collaboration with the OPS Research office, and to discuss upcoming professional development sessions.  In addition, the EL Leadership team participates in two annual strategic planning day sessions, during which the team reviews all relevant data to create a strategic plan for the current and upcoming school year.  This plan is then revised throughout the year as needed to address professional development needs.  In addition to the EL Leadership team meetings, the following OPS staff also collaborate to provide input for strategic planning related to EL achievement.

    • OPS District Leadership Team
    • OPS Research

Data Analysis

The OPS review process includes analysis of K-12 student program data for both current and former ELs including:

  • English Learner population trends
  • Attendance rate and chronic absenteeism rate
  • MAP Growth test results for Math, Reading and Science
  • ELPA21 levels by domain and school level
  • NSCAS performance for Math, Reading and Science
  • Graduation and dropout rate
  • ACT performance

In addition, the committee regularly reviews the following district processes:

  • Identification of ELs
  • Assessment procedures, including accommodations for ELs on district and state assessments
  • Program exit requirements
  • Program staffing
  • Implementation of the EL program, including EL guaranteed/viable curriculum, instructional approaches and professional development needs

Summary of Review Findings

OPS ensures that all students are correctly identified during the enrollment process by administering a Home Language Survey (HLS) to all students entering the district.  This information is recorded in Infinite Campus.  If a language other than English is reported on the HLS, the EL teacher or bilingual liaison administers an English language proficiency screener.  If the results indicate the student is an English Learner, parents/guardians are notified by the EL teacher or bilingual liaison and are provided notification letter.  Each year after initial placement, students in the OPS EL Program are notified of about their child’s English language proficiency (ELPA21 Summative results) and provided a letter of continuation of services.

Parents can request an interpreter to help complete forms and communicate transportation needs during the enrollment process.  Students whose background suggests limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE) are given an additional screener to see if they might be a candidate for Advantage Placement (K-8) or the High School Teen Literacy Center (ages 14-21).

The Language Instruction Educational Program (LIEP) at Omaha Public Schools is designed to help students reach proficiency in English and support their academic development.  Our program offers a continuum of services including: Dual Language K-12, Sheltered English Instruction or Specially designed academic instruction delivered in English, Pull-out English Learner Instruction, and Structured English Immersion.   Additional English Learner services are provided including: Saturday School, Spring Break School, July summer programming, strategic tutoring, college preparation and student leadership clubs.

In 2017-18, the district worked to provide professional development to all district leaders and teachers related to Academic Conversations.  This work has continued into 2018-19.  EL Teacher Leaders collaborate with Curriculum Supervisors to ensure EL teaching strategies are represented in content-specific professional development presentations.  The district has also invested heavily in professional development by offering an optional K-12 ESL Endorsement as well as an annual ESL Fall Conference open to all OPS teachers and staff.

All students as assessed on the ELPA21 and NSCAS content assessments.  Parents/guardians are notified annually of these results.  Per Rule 15, students exit English Learner Services when they demonstrate proficiency on the ELPA21 Summative (Level 3/Proficient).

Program Strengths

The OPS English Learners population has continued to increase over the past five years.  The number of ELs increases at the high school level and the number of refugee students has remained fairly consistent.  Just fewer than 80% of all English Learners have been in the district for four years or less.  Even so, the percentage of students meeting and exceeding growth goals are relatively steady among all EL statuses in all subjects and current ELs are less likely to show negative growth, while exited ELs are similar to the non-EL population.   The high school graduation rate for students currently receiving English Learner Services is 57.7%, and graduation rate for English Learners who have exited the EL program is 90.4%.  Current ELs graduation rate increases for the five (5) and six (6) year cohorts.

Consistent professional development provided by the EL Teacher Leaders in collaboration with Curriculum Supervisors and building leadership has been central to the success of the OPS English Learner program.  OPS also boasts a strong K-12 Dual Language program, and students in Dual Language do as well as or better than their peers.  OPS also provides strong newcomer programming reflected in 1) classroom/course sheltered instruction, 2) Yates Educational Community Partnership Parental Involvement Program that supports learners ages 0-adult with specific supports for refugee and migrant families and 3) the Teen Literacy Center specific newcomer supports for secondary SLIFE.

Program Recommendations/Modifications

Continue systematic EL curriculum development in alignment with NE ELP standards

  • Continue professional development for EL and general education teachers and paraprofessionals, including dual language
  • Continue collaboration with content area supervisors to ensure integration of best instructional practices for ELs in all content area curriculum development
  • Provide additional consistency in recording enrollment data in Infinite campus, including HLS
  • Additional rigorous benchmarks within each grade level to demonstrate growth, in addition to ELPA21 Summative

Identification of Goals for Improving Student Learning

As a result of the program review, the following goals were recommended for next year’s programming:

  • Develop an understanding of ELPA21 Summative data by learning how to access and interpret the data
  • Gain an understanding of ELPA21 Achievement Level Descriptors and how they can be utilized to guide instruction
  • Field test a new high school level course designed to boost students’ academic language development, with a focus on comprehension, academic vocabulary development, and advanced grammatical structures needed to comprehend and produce academic language
  • Implement professional development on lesson planning with a focus on language goals that support the (content) learning goals
  • Continue building academic language through Academic Conversations across all content areas