Edison MS, Meyerland MS, Persing MS, and Wisdom HS included all their content teachers in the TELPAS rating process.
The move resulted in a better understanding of the students’ language proficiency and has helped educators develop strategies and lessons to support students.
Multilingual Immigrant division Manager, Dr. Virginia Elizondo, emphasizes that this structural change is long overdue. “Our English Language Proficiency standards are embedded into lessons in all content areas. Training all teachers on TELPAS will help those teachers to better understand the language development of their students. It also helps teachers to have discussions about how students are performing across the content areas, and the role of language development in their learning.”
Lia Oprea, Multilingual Programs Specialist also commends this strategic move and explains that it has several implications. “Teachers included in the TELPAS rating process make a connection between the expectation of continual writing and scaffolding across all content.”
According to Ms. Oprea, “the process -also- provides teachers with a better understanding of their students’ language proficiency, content understanding, as well as personality.” The change not only makes all content teachers, language teachers but also “alleviates the number of ratings a single teacher needs to complete and it increases the understanding of the ELL students instructional needs and leads to better ratings,” says Oprea.
Multilingual Programs asked campuses with a strong implementation of this approach to show how it has improved their student achievement.
1. Why did your campus decide to have all content teachers rate their students, and not just the English content teachers?
Edison MS: Assistant Principal, Pablo Conchos, describes that all of their teachers are highly invested in the growth and development of students. “With our LEP population, we believe that teachers can help enrich language acquisition through all core content areas. Since all of our teachers have provided support to our ELLs, we made a decision to have our content teachers take an active role in celebrating their growth through the TELPAS rating process.”
Mr. Conchos emphasizes that it is incredibly important for all stakeholders to feel invested in the process and the end results. “Since our teachers all have LEP students and think of them as their own, this was the next logical step. Now, we are ensuring that all raters feel confident in their abilities and supported through the process.”
Meyerland MS: Assistant Principal, Claudia Hernandez, states: “Writing is part of every academic class, so this means that the teachers rating the students know them very well and are able to holistically rate the students.”
This school year, Ms. Hernandez and Meyerland staff are more than ready to achieve the set goals. “Our ELL population in Meyerland has been one of our targets for this school year and we continually work to have academic success.”
Pershing MS: Hope Goodson, Dean of Instruction at this campus, points out the importance of having a sense of belonging for any task, specifically for this new strategy. “We at Pershing Middle School feel if all content teachers are invested in the TELPAS rating process they will take ownership in ensuring students are writing authentically within their content on a consistent basis. The teachers understand what the students need to improve on in their writing, therefore the students’ writing rating scores should improve.”
Wisdom HS: Teacher Specialists Ronda Rhodes and Mallory Goodwin explain that their campus hosts students from 60+ counties that speak over 40 different languages. More than half of their student population (62%) is identified as ELL. With this diverse and high LEP population, both specialists agree that “it demands an ‘All hands-on-deck’ approach to the TELPAS process.”
In the past, the English content teachers were responsible for collecting the writing samples and rating all the students. “This meant some teachers were responsible for rating 50 – 70 samples each. To increase the validity and reliability of the ratings and the quality of the writing samples, we involve all core teachers in the process. Each teacher now rates 8 – 20 student writing collections. Also, with 5000+ papers needing verification, we involve all the CATE and elective teachers to support the process as well.”
2. How have teachers responded to the change and how is the campus supporting new raters?
Edison MS – Assistant Principal, Pablo Conchos: “Teachers at Edison have been very receptive to this change. There has been some anxiousness about the process since we do have several first-time raters, but we are very impressed with the willingness of our staff to take on the challenge.”
“Teachers are offered multiple training sessions leading up to and through the assessment window. In addition to the annual TELPAS training and calibration, our teachers attend in-depth new rater trainings with the administrative team and with the Multilingual Department. Teachers are also provided with Rating Writing Workshops where they collaborate and practice rating with sets from previous years.”
Meyerland MS – Assistant Principal, Claudia Hernandez: “All teachers have been very proactive in doing what is needed to help our ELL population by attending training provided by the Multilingual Programs Department and making sure that effective ESL and instructional strategies are a regular part of their instruction. Additionally, Lia Oprea, our Multilingual Program Specialist, trains teachers on how to use the PLD to determine a student’s English proficiency level. One of the biggest takeaways from the training was the use of high-frequency content words to help increase the student’s writing proficiency.”
Pershing MS – Hope Goodson, Dean of Instruction: “Teachers have responded positively to becoming a part of the rating team. During PLC meetings our focus was to embed TELPAS writing as a part of each teacher’s lesson. Having sample lessons for math, science, social studies and ELA increased awareness and ease of successful TELPAS writing samples. In terms of support, new rates complete the online rating activities together, they review TELPAS samples with rater feedback and break down the Rater rubric with experienced ESL teachers.”
Wisdom HS – Teacher Specialist, Ronda Rhodes: “Teachers have responded well. They like being a part of the process, and since “Literacy Every Day is the Wisdom Way” our teachers provide writing opportunities in every core content area starting at the beginning of the year. We create a very succinct timeline that is shared with the whole staff to keep them informed of the upcoming expectations and responsibilities for each staff member. This timeline ensures compliance is efficient and effective. We require new teachers to attend a separate training that provides an overview of TELPAS and incorporates hands-on activities to engage and motivate them. We also provide a “Calibration Collaboration” training to support teachers prior to calibrating and we offer “Rating Rally” for those who want to collaborate during rating.
3. What advice would you give to campuses that are still in the process of making these decisions or that have not thought about these actions yet?
Edison MS – Assistant Principal, Pablo Conchos: “Being open to fielding questions and concerns from your teachers is vital whenever making changes to the way things have been. Also having a preemptive plan in place to provide support to your teachers will be beneficial in responding to their needs. Above all, keep in mind that this is a very trying time of the year for students, faculty, and all staff. Anything that can be done to lighten the load and distribute it among the entire team can be very beneficial for the process and the end results.”
“The Multilingual Department immediately offers support when we discussed this decision. We were able to quickly schedule a supplemental training for new raters.”
Meyerland MS – Assistant Principal, Claudia Hernandez: “Writing must occur in every content area classroom and not only in English or Reading classrooms in order to help all students improve their writing proficiency.”
“The support provided by Multilingual has been invaluable. The resources such as the leveled readers have also been very helpful.”
Pershing MS – Hope Goodson, Dean of Instruction: “We encourage every campus to invite some/all content are teachers to take part of the TELPAS rating process. They will see increased reliability and validity of the rating scores.”
“We want to acknowledge the Multilingual Department for providing support through presenting at our Parents’ Turn to Learn and meeting with each content area to discuss the importance of authentic writing samples.”
Wisdom HS – Teacher Specialist, Ronda Rhodes: “We highly advise that everyone gets involved in the TELPAS process. Our teachers have remarked that it improved their understanding of language proficiencies and helped them develop lessons and strategies to support our ELL population. Start small if you want, add a core content group of teachers each year until everyone is trained and experienced.”
“The Multilingual department also provides instructional support to our teachers in creating, planning, and implementing authentic TELPAS writing lessons. We have received instructional support throughout the year to build awareness and knowledge of best practices for teaching ELL students.”
To conclude, Dr. Elizondo states: “Every teacher of English Learners is a Language teacher, and every lesson taught to an English Learner is also a language lesson.”
Special mention to Sharpstown High School who has also implemented this approach.