Summit School District honors Fluent English Proficiency students
The bright yellow banner hanging in the Summit Middle School cafeteria reads: “We are all citizens of the world.”
Summit School District honored 67 students who are one step closer to becoming global citizens at a ceremony Thursday, Nov. 21, as they reached Fluent English Proficiency (FEP) status.
Bethann Huston, English Language Acquisition (ELA) program specialist at the middle school, said this is the third year recognizing middle and high school students together for this achievement.
“We wanted a big celebration this year,” she said. “For the kids who are still working, it can give them a goal to get to, something to look forward to.”
In order to reach FEP status, students must score “proficient” or above in reading and writing on the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP), the state’s standards-based assessment. Students must also score a 5 out of 6 overall, and in literacy, on the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) English language exam. Grade-level assessments are also taken into consideration.
After reaching FEP status, students are then monitored for an additional two years, after which they reach official exit status from the program.
“It depends on when they move here or when they start, but it usually takes about seven years to reach FEP,” Huston said. “It’s less if they are very literate in their native language, and more if it’s more of a struggle.”
This year, there were 24 FEP and 13 exit students at the middle school, and 16 FEP and 14 exit students at the high school. About one-third of the honorees attended Thursday’s event.
After receiving their certificates, students and their families celebrated with a potluck dinner at the school and raffle prizes. Teachers, parents and school board members were there to congratulate the students.
Ramon Gomez was celebrating with his son Adrian, a sixth-grade FEP graduate. Adrian was born here in Summit County, and speaks Spanish at home.
“It’s a big step,” Gomez said. “I’d love for him to be able to speak fluent Spanish and English.”
Huston said being bilingual is a benefit for these students, because it opens doors to other cultures and people, as well as increasing job opportunities in fields where a second language is needed.
“This is a big marker, and you just really feel very proud,” she said. “It’s important to really appreciate and understand it’s something that is valued here.”
Summit Middle School principal Joel Rivera said in his address to the crowd that he is excited to see more and more graduates every year.
“Right now, you have opportunities ahead of you and you have to take advantage of them,” he said. “I am very proud of all of you.”
For more information about the district’s ELA programs, visit http://www.summit.k12.co.us/Page/313.
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