School Language Policy

Ellis Elementary School Language Policy

IB Standards:

Culture 4.1: The school implements and reviews a language policy that is aligned with IB language policy guidelines. (0301-04-0100)

Culture 4.2: The school describes in its language policy the way that the school recognizes multilingualism as a fact, a right and a resource for learning. (0301- 04-0200)

Culture 4.3: The school identifies in its language policy a variety of physical and virtual resources used to facilitate language development. (0301-04-0300)

Culture 4.4: The school clearly describes in its language policy the rights and responsibilities of all members of the school community and what constitutes good practice within the school context. (0301-04-0400)

School Language Philosophy

At Ellis Elementary, we believe that language learning is interactive and inclusive. All teachers are language instructors and all students are language learners. We believe that students must be immersed in a language in order to learn and understand it and that language learning involves seeing, hearing, speaking, reading, and writing. We strive to create a bilingual, print-rich environment for our students so that they can build background knowledge and connect to prior learning.

Languages of Instruction

The language of instruction is English and the language of acquisition is Spanish. The language of instruction is taught in all subject areas of the curriculum. Students learn the language of acquisition beginning in Kindergarten (age 4-5). As of 2014-2015, our students receive Spanish instruction every 12 days for 40 minutes. Spanish is differentiated for our native Spanish speakers by offering scaffolded support for all levels.

Home Language Support

The students at Ellis Elementary come from various cultures and cultural backgrounds. Approximately 54% of our students speak English as the home language and approximately 46% of our students speak Spanish or another language as the home language. Many of our students (whose home language is a language other than English) are not literate (reading and writing) in that language.

We promote the importance of literacy in the home language. We have expanded our resources so that we will have more books, digital media, and texts in home languages. We enlist the help of our school community to gather resources and support for home language other than the languages of instruction and acquisition. Parents are encouraged to participate in exposure to all home language represented at Ellis Elementary. Currently, parents have been story tellers, presenters at our school to share their home languages, and helped celebrate cultural diversity during our Global Celebration event.

Inclusive Practices

Ellis Elementary School uses an inclusion-based model. Teachers co-plan and co-teach with the specialists (Reading, English for Speakers of Other Languages, Special Education, Gifted Education). A combination of inclusion and pull-out services are provided to help students meet Individual Educational Plan (IEP), ESOL (federal), and Gifted Education (state regulated) goals. Instruction is differentiated based on students' needs. In addition, ESOL teachers attend IEP and Gifted meetings to ensure best practices for all students.

Differentiated (enrichment, extension, and remediation) instruction in curriculum areas includes: small group instruction, one-on-one support, co-teaching with resource teachers, reading buddies, reading resource staff, PALS, and the use of visuals and realia. After school enrichment and remediation programs are available for different tier students in math and reading. Our specialists (Music, Library, Art, STEM, Spanish) push in once every six days to support student instruction in the grades 3-5 classrooms.

Identification of Language Needs of Learners

In the Pre-School program (ages 3-5), teachers administer the Assessment of Basic Language Learning and Skills (ABBLS) and conduct classroom observations to identify and monitor the language needs of learners. In grades K-5, students are given the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA 2) as needed, at the beginning, middle, and end of each school year, a Word Study Assessment (grades K-4), MAPS (2-3), CSA (K,1,4,5) and PALS Assessment (grades K-3) as needed at the beginning, middle, and end of each school year.

Post year assessment information is included in the students' literacy folders so that teachers have access to the previous years' information. Students also write to prompts to document writing development. Guided reading and strategy groups are flexible to allow for strategy and/or skill focused lessons based on students' needs. Teachers conduct classroom observations, take running records, hold writing conferences, and administer pre and post assessments to monitor and adjust language instruction.

Assessment results are shared with parents at conferences and throughout the year. ESOL students are screened prior to entering our school, and they take the World Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) test in January/February of each year to measure their proficiency in the four domains of reading, writing, listening, and speaking; and to determine their ESOL level for the following school year.

The ESOL teachers write and monitor quarterly "Can Do" language goals, service delivery plans, quarterly progress reports, and testing participation and accommodation forms for ELL students.


Language Practices that reflect our beliefs

  • Pre-School teachers use the Virginia Foundation Blocks for Early Learners program for language instruction.
  • Guided reading and strategy groups are conducted in grades K-5.
  • Phonics Units of Study(Kindergarten) and Word Study (grades 1-5) is taught.
  • Teachers integrate a balanced literacy approach with instruction.
  • Every classroom has a library filled with books of various genres and reading levels.
  • The classroom environment is rich in print with labels, signs, anchor charts, teacher and student writing.
  • Students have a literacy folder that documents their reading and writing progress and follows the student throughout their academic career at Ellis Elementary.
  • The Reading Recovery Program (grade one) and Lessons in Literacy (grades K-3) provide students with intensive, research based reading instruction.
  • Teacher lesson plans include language objectives to support delivery of content.
  • Word walls are used promote academic vocabulary.
  • All formal notices and documentation are provided in English and Spanish and can be translated into other home languages as needed.
  • All weekly updates are provided in 3 languages.
  • Teachers communicate with parents by Canvas, parent newsletters, conferences (interpreter available if necessary), communication applications, and classroom webpages. Our school has an open-door policy for parents.
  • VKRP - Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program results are shared with parents
  • PALS - Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening results are shared with parents.

Inquiry Based Instruction

Open, Guided, and Structured based inquiry practices are utilized across the curriculum for all students at Ellis Elementary School.

  • Open-ended questions
  • "I Wonder" walls and "I Wonder" padlets
  • Student-based reflections in written form and verbal form
  • Text to Self, Text to Text, and Text to World Connections
  • Visual and hands-on Inquiry
  • Interactive read alouds
  • Inquiry-based lessons
  • Student research projects
  • Field trips
  • Fifth Grade Exhibition
  • Visual Thinking Strategies

Ellis Media Center
(Library and International Inquiry Station)

The Ellis Librarian and Instructional Technology Coach help students and teachers with the planning and completion of research projects. Teachers work collaboratively with the media specialist to develop the resources needed for units of inquiry in the PYP, student research at all levels, and language support. Students can check out books and use the library throughout the school day. Library instruction alternates between a fixed and flexible schedule. We recognize the importance of leisure reading in both the language of instruction and the language of acquisition training, and the Ellis Media Center continues to develop a collection of materials that will engage individual student interest.

Funding for new books and other resources for the media center has been provided by the school budget and PTO and parent donations. In addition, we continue to build our curriculum- based materials in our language of acquisition.

Professional Development

Every year, teachers participate in language professional development. Teachers meet two to three times per week in Professional Learning Communities to plan, analyze data, share best practices, and reflect on student progress and instruction. Professional development includes vertical conversations about language learning and instruction, peer observations, and literacy- based instruction outside of the building. Staff members at Ellis Elementary are trained in S.P.O.T. (Supporting the Practice of Teaching Reading), Phonics Units of Study, Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS), Reading Recovery, Literacy Lessons, Word Study, and DRA2 (Developmental Reading Assessment). First year teachers participate in the Educator Support Program by attending monthly group meetings and weekly meetings with their mentors. Second Language Acquisition Training for Educators and Spanish for Educators are offered through our school district's professional development catalog, and several teachers from our school have taken these courses. Teachers are required to have 60 hours of second language acquisition. Once teachers have completed their hours, teachers turn in to administration a record of their ELL professional development hours each school year.

Access to Policy and Complaint Procedures

This policy is accessible to the school community by a physical copy of the policy being posted in the front office of Ellis Elementary School, and it is posted on the Ellis Elementary School Website under the International Baccalaureate tab on the site. This policy is available in English and Spanish in the front office and on the website.

The complaint procedures are also available to the school community by a physical copy of the document being posted in the front office of the school and on the school website. This documentation is also available in English and Spanish.


Revised 2022