Today, the program has evolved into the English Learners Program and
has become a crucial part of the district's educational fabric. It
assesses about 450 students on average in the 3 1/2 weeks before school
When a family who speaks more than one language registers at a school,
state law requires an assessment of the student's English level, said
Mary Ann Kelly, the district's program supervisor.
"Our job here at the Assessment Center is to evaluate a child's
capabilities before school starts," she said. "It's easier to select the
right program for a child when the school, the principal and the teachers
are aware of their level of English."
Riaz Ahmed's 11-year-old son, Furqan, was born in Pakistan and came to
the United States with his family when he was 5. Furqan will attend Vista
View, so he is having his English skills assessed.
Ahmed said this is the first time his son will be attending a public
school, and both he and his wife are pretty nervous.
"The private school he attended up until fifth grade had a lot of
religious teaching involved," Ahmed said. "It's a new atmosphere
altogether, and it's challenging for us because he will be in an open
atmosphere. It will be a trial for him and us, but he's looking forward
The assessments take place at Oak View Elementary School. There,
parents receive a copy of a letter in their native language that explains
what their child's English language abilities are. Then, a copy of that
assessment goes to the child's teacher.
The assessments help to determines which types of classroom services
could assist the child.
"We have instructional aides that work with the teachers using special
strategies and techniques when necessary," Kelly said. "Although all our
programs are in English, we do provide bilingual aides for our real
Kelly said parents are often more nervous than the child on the first
day of school, particularly mothers.
Lorena Gonzalez said that was true for her. She recently accompanied
her daughter Melissa to the Assessment Center, where she recounted her
experience with her now-8-year-old daughter, Michelle.
"With Michelle, it felt really strange," Gonzalez said. "I was nervous
because I didn't know what to expect and was worried. But I got used to
it, and now I'm excited for Melissa to start kindergarten."
Kindergarten registration ends Tuesday, the day before classes begin.
Immunization services will be provided by a staff health technician