Two recent innovations in areas such as instruction, student support, recruitment, curriculum development or collaboration. Highlight innovations that might address the challenges mentioned above or that have not already been described in any section of the narrative

Instruction and Student support & Curriculum Development:

ESL teachers have begun incorporating all levels of Burlington English (BE) into their everyday classroom instruction. Teachers use both individual computer based lessons and the in class lessons together to improve our students reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.  Worksheets and practice lessons are also used. Students enjoy and benefit from having explanations and vocabulary support when doing individual computer instruction, one of Burlington English’s great benefits. Both teachers and students alike appreciate the link to transitioning students to higher education.  One of the Big Lake students was a nurse in her homeland and now she is using BE to learn nursing terms in English in hopes to pass the required tests and continue her profession in the U.S.

Originally WEST was allotted 18 seats by the state, but increased demand and other consortiums not using their seats meant WEST was awarded an additional 27 seats and WEST purchased an additional 10 more to total 55 seats.  We also use Margo Hernandez, the BE trainer and organizer, for ideas on how to use BE to the best advantage to our students.

From one of our ESL teachers:

Using Burlington English in class and as a distance learning tool has really made an impact regarding test scores in my class.  Here are some of the more outstanding results from 2018.

  • An elderly brain-injured woman who had only made a 4 point gain since 2011- from 200-205, scored a 220 after weeks of preparing. She does best with repeated practice without judgement which the computer allows her to do. She went up one level for the first time.
  • Another student who has been stuck in the 221-223 range and has been in class since 2011 scored a 233.  This student just exited ESL with a 237 score in May of 2019.
  • Another student who came this fall and scored a 183 on #28, scored a 197 on level A.

Now, when I ask students if they are ready for the test, they say “yes”, instead of looking nervous.  It has also helped me to understand where they are having problems taking tests. For instance, many times it is with the synonyms that are used within the reading, question and answers. Using Burlington English has enabled my students to succeed at a faster pace.

Support and Collaboration:

WEST ABE has worked hard in the past few years to streamline practices following the rollout of SiD, the Student Information Database. Prior to 2016, we used MARCS, and used an elaborate system of paper logs and records to support staff and students for everything from recording and reporting out test scores to tracking contact hours for progress testing. Much of the information was available in MARCS, but was either restricted to a few staff or there were significant challenges in accessing up to date information, monthly attendance hour reporting for example. With the adoption of SiD, staff now have access to a wealth of data that is current and more comprehensive. This has created the opportunity for staff to revisit best practices and rethink how services are provided to students.

Some of the most notable changes have included how attendance issues are monitored and responded to, how prospective students are registered for intake sessions, and how PEP scheduling is managed. These changes, while it is essentially moving paper forms to online forms, has reduced errors, empowered staff and reduced time spent looking for the correct forms and/or books, providing more appropriate and welcoming service to students. With this information at our fingertips in an online document, paper lists – sometimes the “same” list was being kept by more than one person, making it difficult to maintain accurate counts – have been eliminated, helping reduce the time it takes to give students and staff accurate and timely information, improving program outcomes. One of the biggest innovations is the use of SiD to more closely monitor and support student attendance.

Over the past year, ABE staff have implemented revised attendance practices to support student engagement and attendance as well as to provide support and referrals to community services to help reduce attendance barriers. In some cases, the conversations revealed deeper issues around housing, transportation, work schedules, or other family situations. In these cases, staff worked with students to provide options. Teachers are engaging with the data in SiD more comprehensively, and are even using the data graphs and charts in math classes to support student learning.