ESL Program Services

Seven Hills is committed to providing quality, researched-based instruction to our English Learner students (ELs). Our goal is for all ELs to value their family language and culture, but also successfully communicate in English and perform rigorous grade-level academic work in English in classes with their English-speaking peers.

According to MA law, public school students who are not proficient in English must be placed in a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) program. SEI has two required components:

 1. English as a Second Language (ESL)

 2. Sheltered content instruction

Once a child is accepted in the ESL program, he/ she will receive direct and explicit instruction in English as a Second Language (ESL). ESL Instruction is designed to support EL students to learn to speak, listen, read and write in English and perform rigorous grade-level academic work in English.  ELs are grouped together and ESL teachers guide students in systematic, dedicated, sustained time to develop various aspects of the English language that proficient English speakers already know.

Sheltered content instruction is designed to support ELs in accessing content (ELA, math, science, and social studies) while they are in the process of acquiring full proficiency in English. Teachers who provide sheltered content instruction have received or are in the process of receiving a Sheltered English Endorsement from Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), which designates each teacher as having completed training designed to equip content teachers with the skills and knowledge to make content instruction comprehensible to EL students. All the instruction and materials in the SEI classroom are in English. ELs participate in rigorous and challenging grade-level curriculum, utilizing instructional materials that have been adapted and modified to meet the students’ needs.

SHCPS provides both sheltered English instruction and ESL instruction to students identified. ESL services are offered to students so that they can gain the same knowledge as native speakers in their classrooms in all areas of academic content, while also becoming proficient in English language development.

Initial Identification

An English Learner is identified as “a child who does not speak English or whose native language is not English, and who is not currently able to perform ordinary classroom work in English” according to Massachusetts law (G.L. c. 71A).

To determine whether or not a student is eligible for the ESL program, SHCPS:

1.    Administers a Home Language Survey (HLS). The Home Language Survey is used to identify students  who speak another language or are exposed to another language in the home.  

2.    Students are then screened for language proficiency with the WIDA Model in kindergarten or WIDA screener in grades 1-8, unless ACCESS results from the test administered within the last year are obtained from the previous school.

3.    A determination is made based upon the screening results if the student is an EL student and an initial placement decision is made.

4.    The parent/legal guardian is notified of the language screening results and initial placement and informs parent/guardian of the right to opt out or secure a waiver in a language the parent can understand.

Opt Out Option

Parents may notify the district of their wish to have their child “opt-out” of the ESL program. This means that a parent/guardian chooses to decline their child’s entry into the ESL program offered at Seven Hills Charter Public School.

If a parent chooses to opt out, the district will inform the parent of the services the child would receive in the district’s English learner education programs, as well as the type of support that would be provided to the student if the parent decides to “opt out”.  Even when parents choose to “opt out”, the student will be placed in a classroom with an SEI endorsed teacher, provided access to the curriculum, continue to be classified as eligible for ESL and annually have their language assessed on the ACCESS for ELs 2.0 assessment. The students will receive support and scaffolds inside the general education classroom and progress will be actively monitored.  When parents choose to opt out, they will sign an “opt out” form.


The SHCPS ESL department has developed a curriculum to support the English Language Development of students in conjunction with the SEI instruction that they receive in the general education environment. Based upon the current school schedule of four full days and half day Fridays, the curriculum has been designed.  The ESL department has structured the program with curriculum units which includes Math Mondays, Tuesday Tales, Writing Wednesday, Theater Thursday, and Foundations Friday in order to work on developing students’ reading, writing, speaking and listening skills and increase their English language proficiency. Based upon students’ language levels, grade levels and developmental needs ESL instruction is provided to students.  

Math Mondays includes a focus on the language of Mathematics including vocabulary, terms, concepts, and word problems used to understand grade level Common Core Math Standards.  Tuesday Tales includes a focus on Reading skills through social studies and science content including decoding skills, phonemic awareness, fluency, comprehension, and sight-word recognition.  Writing Wednesdays includes a focus on writing skills including grammar, vocabulary, structure, organization, volume, spelling patterns, and conventions.  Thursday Theater focuses on strengthening students’ speaking and listening skills through reading plays where students get to play the role of a character and orally read and act out the script of the play.  Foundational Fridays focuses instruction on specific areas of need for EL students.  

Reclassification of EL Students

SHCPS annually assesses ESL student’s language proficiency and academic achievement to determine whether such students are able to do regular school work in English, and to remove the English learner classification once ELs demonstrate the ability to do regular school work in English. The process of removing a student’s ESL classification is also known as “reclassification”.  Exit from ESL status is a high-stakes decision because a premature exit may place a student who still has linguistic needs at risk of academic failure, while unnecessary prolongation of ESL status (particularly at the secondary level) can limit educational opportunities, lower teacher expectations, and  demoralize students (see Linquanti, 2001; Callahan, 2009; Robinson, 2011). ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is the state’s language proficiency assessment, and the results of the assessment must be considered when making language classification decisions. This includes achieving an overall score of at least 4.2 and a composite literacy score of 3.9 on the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0.  The team will also consider other relevant data to determine whether students can perform ordinary classroom work in English, and whether or not such students’ ESL classification should be removed. It is a violation of the Equal Education Opportunity Act (EEOA) of 1974 when ESL students are not exited from the ESL program after they have acquired English proficiency, so when students have achieved English proficiency they are exited from the ESL program.

In determining whether a student should be re-classified as a Former English Learner (FEL) student and continue to be monitored, the school-based team evaluates and considers a range of evidence of the student’s performance, including school based assessments, grades, observations, recommendations, MCAS (if applicable), WIDA performance definitions and CAN DO Descriptors.

Instructional Programs for Reclassified EL Students (FELS)

After evaluating the available student data, if the school-based team determines there is sufficient evidence of a student’s English language proficiency and the ability to perform ordinary classroom work in English without significant instructional support, the team removes the ESL classification, notifies the parent/guardian of the change in the students classification, and monitors the students’ academic progress for four years.

Family Engagement/Resources

Seven Hills recognizes the benefits of having families involved in the ESL program in order to maximize support for the students. ESL staff make every effort to contact parents on a regular basis through phone calls, emails, letters or class dojo to provide updates on instruction and student progress. Parents should also feel free to contact staff with any questions.

The Parental Liaison works with parents of students promoting parental involvement as well as providing information to parents through educational workshops. The purpose of these workshops is to improve parent/guardian involvement and enhancing student educational success.  The workshops are held every other month.  These workshops provide information to parents as well as access to resources available to them throughout the school system and the community.  Parents are encouraged to serve on school committees and to attend special events at the school.

Title III Parent Liaison contact information

Maritza Bryan

Sarah Rosario

Education Websites and Resources for ELs

Parental Rights

Home Language Survey: When parents enroll their child in SHPCS, they are asked to complete a home language survey that helps the school identify potential English learners and also learn the parents’ preferred language of communication. The “Home Language Survey” asks questions about the language(s) children have been exposed to in the home environment and the language(s) children use at home and at school. If a language other than English is indicated for any of the questions, the student will be screened for English language proficiency to determine whether or not the student qualifies for the ESL program.

SHCPS informs parents about the importance of the home language survey for their child’s education and provides them with assistance to have the form completed accurately. In the absence of reliable information, children who need services to attain English proficiency may initially be missed in the process and be placed in classrooms where no language support is available. Consequently, students may lose instructional time both in classes where content is made accessible (sheltered content instruction), and also the instruction focused on English language development in the ESL classes.

SHCPS provides the families with basic information on topics related to children learning two or more languages, the benefits of being bilingual, the importance of maintaining home language, and the value of becoming fully bilingual. Parents are informed that services that their children may be eligible for will help them be successful in their academic journey.

Parent Notification Letters: School districts must identify ESL students and inform the parents about the results in a timely manner. Parent notification forms are sent home within thirty days from the beginning of the school year and within two weeks if the student enrolls in the school district during the school year.  Parent notification letters are also sent home annually thereafter to communicate the progress the child had demonstrated at acquiring English and their current ESL status. Should the child meet the exit criteria and be reclassified as Former English Learners (FEL), then the parents will be notified again regarding the next steps, how the district will monitor the student’s progress for 4 years and plan an instruction program that will ensure a successful transition to the general education environment.

Waiver Requests:   Parents are informed about their right to apply for a waiver and provided with program descriptions in their preferred language.

Opt-out Requests: Parents of ELs may notify the districts of their wish to have their child “opt-out” of specialized language programs. [Although submitting an opt-out request is a parental right, the district explains to the parent that a parent’s choice to opt-out means their child will not receive separate English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction focused on language development, but the district is still obliged to monitor the student’s progress, and provide instructional support to ensure that the student has access to the curriculum and meet the same standards as the native English speaking peers.] The obligations of SHCPS for opt-out students are as follows:

  • Make all accommodations and modifications to instruction that are necessary to ensure the student has full access to the general academic program
  • Report the student to SIMS as an ESL student until such time as the student attains English proficiency
  • Assess the English Language Proficiency of the student on the annual English proficiency assessment 
  • Monitor the student’s academic progress without benefit of participation in the specialized ESL program until such time as the student attains English proficiency
  •  Notify parents of the above

SHCPS may not recommend that parents opt out for any reason. Parents are entitled to guidance in a language that they can understand about their child’s rights, the range of services that their child could receive, and the benefits of such services. SHCPS will appropriately document that the parent made a voluntary, informed decision to opt their child out. Since opt-out students are still ESL students, parents should expect from the district the annual parent notification forms informing them about state mandated English proficiency test ACCESS results and also other information regarding the students’ academic progress in their preferred language.

Translation Services

The number of students whose home language is other than English is significantly higher than the number of ELs enrolled in the Massachusetts’ elementary and secondary education public schools. Some students with a non-English home language are proficient in English when they come into the school system. Others are students that have reached English proficiency in the state’s programs and transitioned into general education classes. Therefore, language assistance of the type discussed herein should be provided to all parents whose preferred language is not English even if their child is proficient in English.

When parents first enroll their child at SHCPS, it is SHCPS’ responsibility to administer home language surveys and determine the child’s eligibility for the ESL program. The Home Language Survey also provides the district the opportunity to learn what the parents’ preferred language is for further communications regarding the student’s education. Districts are required to translate important information provided to all parents for those who are not proficient in English. If it is not practicable for the district to provide a written translation because it is not a common language or, the district may use a cover page explaining in the uncommon language how a parent may have the document translated orally.  Essential information that needs to be provided in the parent’s preferred language includes:

·         Registration and enrollment in school and school programs

·         Language assistance programs

·         Notices required by special education laws and regulations

·         IEP meetings

·         Grievance procedures and notices of discrimination

·         Parent handbooks

·         Student discipline policies and procedures

·         Report cards and progress reports

·         Parent-teacher conferences

·         Requests for parent permission for student participation in school activities

·         Such other information provided to native English-speaking parents such as invitations to join school-related councils or groups

To provide parents with effective communication, interpreters or translators must understand and be able to express in both languages any specialized terms or concepts used in the communication at issue. It is also important that translators or interpreters have an understanding of the ethics of interpreting and translating, and the need for confidentiality.

Relying on students, siblings or friends would not be appropriate for translations that require confidentiality (e.g., parent-teacher conferences, participation in school programs etc.).  Moreover translators and interpreters should also be competent to interpret in and out of the language, or to translate documents that require the knowledge of specialized terms of concepts in both languages. Likewise, web-based translation services might not provide accurate translation of the documents in different languages and therefore, do not help the school districts meet the obligation to communicate effectively with parents whose preferred language of communication is not English. Utilization of such services is appropriate only if the translated document accurately conveys the meaning of the source document, including accurately translating technical vocabulary. Thus, to ensure that essential information has been accurately translated and conveys the meaning of the source document, the school district would need to have a machine translation reviewed, and edited as needed, by an individual qualified to do so. Additionally, the confidentiality of documents may be lost when documents are uploaded without sufficient controls to a web-based translation service and stored in their databases. School districts using any web-based automated translation services for documents containing personally identifiable information from a student's education record must ensure that disclosure to the web-based service complies with the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b), and its implementing regulations at 34 C.F.R. Part 99.

It is also SHCPS’ responsibility to provide parents and guardians of ESL students with report cards (SLCs) and progress reports in the same manner and frequency as general education reporting.  Progress reports and reports cards (SLCs) also include information regarding the student’s progress in becoming proficient in using English language.

Access to Curricular and Extracurricular Activities

Districts must ensure that ESL students across all levels of language proficiency can access and fully engage with the rigorous grade-level standards. School leaders and teachers are responsible for making the challenging academic standards accessible to students who must learn rigorous academic content while learning the language in which the content is taught. Instructional content for ESL students is expected to be age-appropriate and standards based. Students should be awarded credit that will count towards graduation and promotion upon a successful completion of the coursework.

ESL students have access to all educational program opportunities and they can participate in all of the instructional programs or extracurricular activities available within the school for which they qualify. Their level of English proficiency does not determine participation in academic programs and services including career and technical education programs, counseling services, special education services, gifted and talented programs, performing and visual arts, athletics and any elective classes offered in the school. For instance unless a particular GATE (Gifted and Talented

Education) program or advanced course is demonstrated to require proficiency in English for meaningful participation, schools must ensure that evaluation and testing procedures for GATE or other specialized programs do not screen out ESL students because of their limited English proficiency.

ESL students who may have a disability, like all other students who may have a disability and may require services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, must be located, identified and evaluated for special education and disability-related services in a timely manner. To avoid inappropriately identifying ESL students as students with disabilities because of their limited English proficiency, ESL students must be evaluated in an appropriate language based on the student’s needs and language skills.

ESL students also have a right to, in a language they can understand, receive any guidance and counseling supplied by the district, including, e.g., academic, psychological, college and career counseling, Academy Director, guidance counselor or school psychologist.

Additional Information and Complaints

Parents can contact (781) 338-3584 to learn more about school districts’ obligations and recommended practices relative to ESL students.

Through its Problem Resolution System (PRS), the Department handles complaints that allege a school or a district is not meeting legal requirements for education. Program Quality Assurance Services (PQA) is the unit that manages the PRS. Anyone, including parents, students, educators, community members, and agency representatives, can contact PQA for assistance. For more information about filing a complaint, please visit


EL Teacher K

Sarah Rosario

EL Teacher 1

Nico Ortiz

EL Teacher 2

Christine Fairbanks

EL Teacher 3

Caterina Kennedy

EL Teacher 4

Jenny Otto

EL Teacher 5-6

Adriana Nica-Buda

EL Teacher 7-8

George Cabral

EL Coordinator

Sue Bourget

Student Support Director

Dr. Jennifer Applegate

Title III Parent Liaisons

Maritza Bryan

Sarah Rosario

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