42 ELL students increased 42 percent in proficiency

42 ELL students increased 42 percent in proficiency
Posted on 11/01/2021

With the help of teachers Lisa Acosta and Francis Reyes-Manzanares, English Language Learner (ELL) students at 42 Charter School demonstrated an amazing 42 percent increase in 2021 English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT), with 89 percent of students who tested scoring as progressing or proficient.

“I am so proud of the team at 42,” said InspireNOLA Instructional Support Supervisor Keilon Martin. “With such a culturally diverse community of students and parents, we knew that they would have to step out of our normal way of approaching instruction and parental involvement and be innovative to create a more engaging platform. They implemented a robust plan of action that ultimately led to amazing growth in their students. That’s a true example of 42 strong!”

The ELPT measures how much a student has gained in English proficiency from year to year. From 2020 to 2021, 78 percent of 42’s ELL students scored progressing and 11 percent tested proficient.

Ms Manzanares

What makes this accomplishment even greater was that it was done at a time when students were learning virtually, something both teachers say ended up being a benefit. 

“I’m proud to say that 100 percent of our students showed up all the time. They would say that they wanted to be there because class was fun. They would even want to stay after,” Acosta said. “I think they benefited from the one-on-one experience where the computer and the information were right in front of them.”

Another benefit to the virtual setting was the ability for the students to stick around after tutoring and/or the school day.

“Just by talking to them and checking in with them after class, 

I felt as if we were able to build a bigger emotional connection with them. We got to know them a lot more than a typical classroom,” Acosta said. 

Ms Acosta

“We have a really good relationships with our students and their parents too. That helps tremendously,” Manzanares added. “The support was really great with the parents at 42.”

So how did Acosta and Manzanares get such encouraging results? They did a deep dive into their students’ data and developed individual targeted lesson plans designed to mix academics with education games devised to reinforce their lessons. 

“We took notes from every single grade and developed lesson plans according to what we saw,” Manzanares said.

Starting with the Carousel of Ideas curriculum, the general education teachers’ lesson plans, and the ELPT guidelines, they added extra resources such as sight words, YouTube videos, and Kahoot games.

“We took a mixture of everything, put it in there and made a lesson,” Acosta said. “Every day we made it repetitive so that it would stick with them.”

The two put together a massive interactive Google Slides presentation to practice with their students.


“Everything was included in there. It included the components of Carousel of Ideas, which is listening, speaking, reading, and writing. We started with phonics. We would watch videos on YouTube and make up some questions for students to answer,” Manzanares said. “And we did a lot of practicing with small groups in Google Classroom, and students were also able to practice with each other.”

They also offered ELPT tutoring beginning in November to familiarize their students with the format and experience of the test.

“We told them, ‘This is how it works, and this is what you are going to do.’ We took those same practice questions and made our own, replacing them with different words and different pictures and getting them to repeat those steps over and over again so that when it was time to take the test, they could remember doing something similar to it before,” Acosta said. 

They also implemented an awards system that resonated with the students.

“We did a lot of rewarding,” Manzanares said. “For every time they came for tutoring or if they came early, I gave them extra Class Dojo points. It was a friendly competition. Whoever had the most points that month got a pizza for lunch. They really liked that.”

Acosta said no matter what, they made sure they consistently rewarded their students because they saw the impact it was making.

“Knowing that their teacher was going to come by and drop something off, they just loved it,” she said.

This school year, students are back to in-person learning, which has required a bit of adaptation to last year’s teaching methods. Additionally, Manzanares is expanding the program at Dwight D. Eisenhower Charter School. 

Ms Acosta

Both say they are still using their Google Slides that proved so successful last year.

“I still use Google Classroom because the test is online and students need to get used to it,” Manzanares said. “They love all the visuals, they love competing, and they love all games.”

In the end though, Acosta said the basis for success is sometimes very simple.

“A lot of it is just teaching from your heart. Showing them that you care, and they’ll push themselves to do it,” she said.