English as a Second Language

The Baldwin-Whitehall School District offers a K-12 English as a Second Language (ESL) Program. The ESL program is designed to provide non-native English-speaking students with the language skills they need to participate successfully in content area classes. To meet this goal, ESL instruction addresses the ESL and Pennsylvania Academic Standards in Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening to enable full participation. The emphasis placed on achieving benchmarks is adjusted to the needs of the individual student. An underlying objective is to provide a source of support as the student seeks to understand and adapt to his or her new cultural and academic setting. ESL teachers work to develop an appreciation of their students’ strengths within the school setting and to ensure full access to the range of educational opportunities available in the district.

Program Features

  • ESL instruction is offered in grades K-12 as a pull-out program
  • Students receive services based on their English proficiency levels
  • Students attend math, science, social studies, and other general education classes
  • Research-based curriculum is used for instruction
  • Supplemental software programs are used to support instruction
  • ESL classes are individualized and student-centered

Identification of Students

Upon registering, if a family indicates on the Home Language Survey that a language other than English is spoken in the home, the ESL staff administers the W-APT screening test. W-APT stands for the WIDA ACCESS Placement Test. It is an English language proficiency “screener” test given to incoming students who may be designated as an English Language Learner. At Baldwin-Whitehall School District, an eligible ELL student may be classified as a novice, intermediate, or an advanced learner. The amount of instructional hours in an ESL classroom is based on the individual assessment results. Families are notified of the results from the W-APT in a timely manner.


What curriculum will my child use in the ESL classroom?

K-5 Reach

6-8 Inside

9-12 Edge

  • All instructional materials are research-based and aligned to the core standards.
  • The curriculum actively engages and immerses students in language learning.
  • Essential skills and strategies are taught to make students independent readers.
  • The reading content is relevant and motivating.
  • Supplemental support is also provided for the newly arrived student. This reading program helps to develop language, survival vocabulary, and teach the basic skills of literacy.

Supplemental Instructional Materials

K-5 IMAGINE Learning: IMAGINE Learning software program uses differentiated instruction to help English learners develop reading and speaking abilities they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond. The IMAGINE Learning curriculum is based on current scientific research and state standards. The program uses thousands of engaging activities to teach reading skills, listening and speaking skills, and the five essential components of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. The software tailors the curriculum to each student’s abilities so that students are always challenged, but never overwhelmed.

6-12 ESL Reading Smart: ESL Reading Smart helps middle and high school ESL students face the challenge of learning English while mastering content in academic subjects. ESL Reading Smart incorporates activities that support all four modalities of language learning: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. Each instructional level is designed to provide a comprehensive sequence of learning activities to help the student become proficient readers.

Exit Criteria

PDE defined criteria for exiting ELL

Exiting the ELL program may only be accomplished by meeting the exit criteria as defined by the state department of education. Students must meet both criteria 1 & 2 as well as one of the two additional criteria.

Required Exit Criteria:

  1. Score of BASIC on the annual Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA).

Special Circumstances:

  • For students transferring from other states, out-of-state academic achievement assessment results may be considered when the academic proficiency level is comparable to BASIC on the PSSA.
  • For students that are in a grade that is not assessed with the PSSA, Local Education Agencies (LEA) must use each of the remaining criteria listed below to exit students.
  1. Scores of 5.0 on a Tier C ACCESS for ELLs assessment (see Items A and B below for cutoff score flexibility)

    A. Following the scoring criteria in the table below, the W-APT may be administered between April and June to students who scored below the minimum cutoff for program exit on the January administration of the ACCESS in order to demonstrate sufficient progress to justify exit.

NOTE: The W-APT may ONLY be administered to a student once in any school year.

Grade Level ACCESS Score Required W-APT Scores*

Grade LevelACCESS ScoreRequired W-APT Scores*

5.0 in each domain


5.0 in each domain


5.0 in each domain

* A student must score 5.0 in each domain (listening, speaking, reading and writing). A composite proficiency score will not be used.

B. A score of PROFICIENT on the reading PSSA can be used along with all other required criteria outlined in this policy to justify exit for students who achieve a composite proficiency score of 4.5 to 4.9 on the January administration of the ACCESS. In this case, W-APT scores are not necessary to demonstrate progress from the time of ACCESS administration to the end of the school year.

Additional Exit Criteria: Students must meet one of the two criteria listed below as well as both criteria listed above.

  1. Final grades of C or better in core subject areas (Mathematics, Language Arts, Science and Social Studies).
  2. Scores on district-wide assessments that are comparable to the BASIC performance level on the PSSA.


Students who are exited from the district’s ELL program are monitored for two years. During this time, the ELL teacher collects data through observations, grades, and performance on statewide assessments. If at any time the data indicates the student is at risk of academic failure due to a language proficiency deficit, modifications or adaptations may be made including re-enrollment in the ELL program.

Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives

AMAO stands for Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives and is the accountability measure related to the WIDA ACCESS for ELL’s assessment. Title III of No Child Left Behind has identified the following AMAO’s:

  1. Annual increases in the number or percentage of children making progress toward learning English.
  2. Annual increases in the number or percentage of children attaining English proficiency by the end of each school year as determined by ACCESS for ELL’s.
  3. Making adequate yearly progress for limited English proficient children.

A school district has to meet all three of the targets in order to make AMAO. Each year, parents are informed in writing regarding the District’s status on achieving AMAO status.

Translating and Interpreting Service

The Baldwin-Whitehall School District employs translators and interpreters to assist with translations. The following languages are covered by our translators: Albanian, Arabic, Dinka, Kiswahili, Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian, Burmese, Karen, Chinese, Farsi, French, Kirundi, Swahili, Nepali, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese.

In order to aide the communication between teachers and families, the district also uses a service called Deaf Talk. Deaf Talk provides interpreting services in 180 languages and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Guide to Using Interpreters Effectively