The Nevada English Language Development (ELD) Standards were adopted by the State Board of Education on March 26, 2015. These standards are identical to the WIDA ELD Standards on which Nevada’s annual English Language Proficiency Assessment (ACCESS) is based.
Approximately 17% of Nevada’s K-12 students are designated “EL” (English Learner). This means that at the time they first enrolled in a Nevada school they spoke a language other than English either at home, as their first language, and/or with friends, AND that they achieved a score of less than 5.0 (4.5 after 2017) out of 6.0 on the English language screener assessment.
English Learners are vastly diverse in their ages, home languages and cultures, length of time in the United States, academic achievement, and myriad other factors. According to state criteria, what they all have in common is that they still need to develop the academic English that is expected and necessary for success at their current grade level. Some ELs may only be a year from reaching this goal, while others may require support (including explicit language instruction) for another 2-5 years depending on when they began learning English; many studies indicate that some language learners can even take 7 years or more to acquire academic language.
Once a student’s EL status has been determined, their development in academic English is measured annually (Jan-Mar) by the ACCESS test produced by the WIDA organization and administered at school sites. As noted above, this assessment is aligned to the ELD Standards.
The Nevada English Language Development Standards
The Nevada ELD Standards are:
- Social and Instructional language: English language learners communicate for Social and Instructional purposes within the school setting
- The language of Language Arts: English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Language Arts
- The language of Mathematics: English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Mathematics
- The language of Science: English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Science
- The language of Social Studies: English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Social Studies
These standards cannot stand alone but are designed to work in conjunction with the Nevada Academic Content Standards (NVACS) in each content area and at each grade level. This means, for example, that “Social and Instructional language” in 2nd grade will be different from the language needed in a high school technology class, and the expectations for “the language of Language Arts” in 6th grade English will be different from those in an 11th grade ELA course.
This structure means that ALL teachers are expected to provide support for English Language Development in order for ELs to be able to access, interpret, and express the content of their classes as well as to help ELs grow and improve their ability to read, write, speak, and listen to academic English across the curriculum.
Although aspiring to grade level expectations, English Learners typically have differing proficiency levels in interpretive (listening, reading) and expressive (speaking, writing) language skills. Therefore, teachers need to know and understand the abilities of their ELs and apply scaffolds, supports, and differentiation in order to help each of them comprehend and produce enough English to demonstrate that they have grasped the concepts of the content. Recognizing that this may be a new way of approaching instruction for ELs to many teachers and administrators, most districts and the Nevada Department of Education are developing ongoing professional learning designed to develop educators’ knowledge around ELD. Instructional models for English Learners throughout the state differ based on a number of factors; however, all districts are accountable for policies and procedures to ensure that these standards are communicated and implemented.
For more information on the ELD Standards and the WIDA Standards Framework for English Language Development, please see the resources listed above.