English language learners being
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 18, 2005 12:00 AM
A state audit shows that the Roosevelt School District has severely undercounted
the number of English language learners it has enrolled, and that could result
in the loss of tens of thousands of dollars in funding.
Furthermore, the audit showed that
some Roosevelt schools made little effort
to account for their ELL students and prompted Superintendent Grace Wright to
issue a memo telling administrators that failure to comply could result in
"non-renewal of your contract."
A random audit of student files was called in March because of court decisions
that require a monitoring of ELL students, said Margaret Garcia Dugan, associate
superintendent for academic achievement under the Arizona Department of
Education. Each complete file brings in $340.
"We do everything internally, and that's been the problem," said Ben Miranda, a
school board member.
Norma Muņoz, another board member, said responsibility lies with the principals.
"If we've learned a lesson (from the audit), they (principals) should be doing
this," Muņoz said. "The first time they were all behind. They had to go through
every single file and make sure it was up to date. It was bad.
That is their responsibility."
The district listed 4,857 students as ELL in 2003. The district has about 12,000
The Arizona Department of Education directed the district to update the files in
order to get an accurate accounting of English language learners.
District employees collected files on students in late February, knocking on
doors in south Phoenix and sending notes home with students or pulling parents
into the schools for general information.
A student's cumulative file contains a birth certificate, immunization records,
school grades and test scores. Files belonging to English language learners
determine the children's first language. It also helps educators figure out
where an ELL student stands academically or places the student in classes that
These files show how ELL students performed academically and, if they needed
help, how the school addressed the situation, Dugan said. Roosevelt is one of 32
school districts audited this year.
"Since Superintendent Tom Horne has been here, program specialists are here and
we try to find out what exactly is happening with ELL students," she said.
A number of Roosevelt's 20 campuses failed to complete information. Pastor
School, for example, has 907 students, and of that number, only 150 folders were
complete as of January.
Pastor staff improved the numbers two weeks later, reporting 430 folders
District Governing Board leaders, during a March 1 board retreat, discussed new
ways of evaluating Roosevelt's principals, launched a debate about ways to
maintain updated records in the future.
One board member believed principals should be in charge of updating student
records, while others believed an outside consultant should be given that duty.
Miranda called the process time-consuming for educators and said he believes the
district should hire a consultant to gather the information.