To ensure a safe and caring environment for children and youth
Lewiston School Department; Lewiston, Maine
Serving Refugees in the Lewiston Schools
Starting in 2001, refugees began to arrive in Lewiston. Most were from Somalia. Today, over 85% of the district's English Language Learners are refugees or the children of refugees. Most of the older refugee students come with little, if any, formal schooling and need to learn both English and content to meet high school graduation requirements.
The Lewiston School Department focuses on serving children in their neighborhood schools. Refugee students are supported in accessing all services and programs in their home schools and assisted in integrating successfully. Although there is not a lot of centralized, district-wide programming specifically for refugee students, the English Language Learner (ELL) Department provides leadership in assisting students and their families with academic and social needs. The ELL Department strives to help all English Language Learners acquire the language and academic skills needed to graduate from high school college-ready.
Lewiston's curriculum is guided by Maine Parameters of Learning. Maine is part of the World Class Instructional Design and Assessment Consortium (WIDA) and uses WIDA language proficiency standards to guide ELL instruction. The Safe Schools/Healthy Students program uses research-based programs approved by the federal Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice, the funders of this program. Family programs that are not validated with the immigrant/refugee community are adapted as the logic model allows. All parent programming and materials are translated and/or interpreted as appropriate.
Before 2001, less than half of 1% of Lewiston's students were ELLs. Today, Lewiston School Department, with a total enrollment of 5,000, serves students from 22 language groups in pre- kindergarten through grade 12. Over 1,000 students come from homes where the primary language is not English. Over 85% of our ELL students are refugees or the children of refugee parents, and the major language group is Somali.
The ELL Department uses local funding, various sources of federal funds such as a Refugee School Impact Grant from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and other grants to provide programs and services for immigrant and refugee students.
All staff are fully certified and credentialed for their positions. Regular workshops and other trainings are offered for all school staff.
Program success is measured by academic and language proficiency growth and analysis of behavioral and social data. Specific programs, such as summer school, collect data from parents and students to demonstrate effectiveness.
ELL students make gains annually in reading, math, and English proficiency as measured by the New England Comprehensive Assessment Program and ACCESS for ELLs. Local data teams look at school-wide data on a regular basis. A parent advisory committee and other community resources and groups assist in decision-making and program direction.
Susan B. Martin
Director, English Language Learning Program and Special Projects
Lewiston School Department
36 Oak Street Lewiston, Maine 04240
Phone: (207) 795 4103, ext 216
Fax: (207) 795 4177
ELL programming has been offered since 1975, and the district began receiving Refugee School Impact funds in 2006. The programs described here are still operating as of February 2011.