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District could be out of complinace with law requiring progress in teaching non-English speakers

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Reynolds School District may get extra guidance from the state on improving outcomes for its English Language Learners.

The Reynolds School District has been put on notice by the Oregon Department of Education that it may not have been making enough progress educating students that don't speak English as their first language.

"The Reynolds School District Board of Directors and staff are committed to removing barriers and holding high academic expectations for all students," Danna Diaz, superintendent of the Reynolds School District said in a statement issued Wednesday, April 28.

In the announcement, Reynolds said The Oregon Department of Education "recently notified the Reynolds School District that it may be out of compliance regarding K-12 English Language Learners (ELL) within the district."

The district noted that "administrators are currently working with ODE to respond to the required review and receive further guidance to ensure compliance."

In 2015 the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 3499. It requires districts to file reports on their progress in supporting and teaching students who are learning English so they can successfully become proficient in English. If districts are not in compliance with the requirements, they'll get extra assistance to help these ELL students.

In a recent presentation to the Reynolds School Board, administrators said that based on the district's statistics, under HB3499, it had received $980,193 in funds to support students learning English.

Based on complex formulas, the board presentation showed that Reynolds had made "limited progress" on HB 3499 goals.

The Oregon Department of Education notified Reynolds on Wednesday, April 14, that it may have been out of compliance regarding K-12 ELL for the 2019-20 school year, the district announced.

And, as a result of that assessment, ODE identified areas that have been selected for further review as "potential instances of non-compliance."

Reynolds School District was required to submit a response to ODE no later than Friday, April 30. ODE may visit Reynolds, virtually or in person, as early as May 17-21 to discuss the issues.

Around 2,888 of the district's 10,800 students are learning English. Students speak 71 different languages.

In Wednesday's announcement the district detailed the many steps it has taken to improve teaching and learning for English learners in the district. It has had listening sessions with families to get input, hired a consulting firm to improve ELL outcomes and hired a new director of multilingual education.

"I am proud of the dedication and passion that our teachers, support staff, and administrators bring to Reynolds School District every day," Diaz said.

"I know that together we will take this opportunity to review and develop practices and policies to ensure we are giving all of our students the equitable access to education they deserve. It is the right thing to do for children and we will do it."

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