In response to California Assembly bill AB 2735 that was passed last summer, Diamond Bar High School is taking a new approach to its English classes. Specifically, the bill affects students who’ve recently met the state requirement for English proficiency, leading to their integration into regular English classes.
According to DBHS ELD teacher Silvia Martyr, AB 2735 allows individuals who are considered English learners to participate in mainstream classes. The law helps these students meet their A-G requirements, as students are allowed to take anything from regular-level classes to APs.
“Students have the right to take any class they want regardless of their proficiency in the English language, except for very, very newcomers, who will be having their English-development class,” Martyr said.
Before the law was introduced, students who were less proficient in English took sheltered classes.
Martyr mentioned that these classes sheltered the material students were given in order to deliver information in a challenging and comprehensive manner.
However, since these classes didn’t meet their A-G requirements, students would have to take summer classes to ensure they received all their credits.
Before students can be in integrated classes, they must take a state test called the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC), which tests their proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Once students meet the test’s criteria, they no longer have to take the test. Some students meet the criteria for the test within a year, but the state of California requires every English learner to take the exam until they pass.
These students must also take the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
“It’s pretty rigorous as far as learning a new language, meeting criteria of the ELPAC and being able to pass it,” Martyr said.
Instructional Dean Julie Galindo says that this will be a permanent change at DBHS.
While the curriculum won’t be modified, teaching strategies will be altered.
Teachers are given training by the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP), which focuses on components such as lesson delivery, comprehensible input and interaction.
“There are benefits to the Assembly Bill 2375 because teaching strategies and methods are implemented to support all learning styles,” Galindo said.
“SIOP [supports] the learning needs of our bilingual students and provides methods and strategies that benefit all types of learners.”
Many students who took sheltered English last year are responding positively to the new changes.
“You can learn more things, in sheltered you stay at the same level, in regular it’s a higher level,” said sophomore Rachel Suo.
““What’s bad about no more sheltered is maybe some Chinese kids will have struggle with the English,” said sophomore Miao Miao Zhang.
“But what’s good is that it forces them to learn English so it forces them to learn it faster.”