It was a proud moment for Guadalupe School earlier this school year when executive director Richard Pater informed staff that he had received a letter from the Utah State Board of Education announcing that Guadalupe had “made the most progress of any school in the state of Utah for increased English Language Proficiency” in 2016. This data came from WIDA testing results that included the yearly increases of the percent of English Learners who are progressing towards English Language proficiency, as well as the increases in percent of English Learners who actually attained English Language proficiency by the school year’s end.
The Utah State 2016 target for increases of English Learners who are making progress towards proficiency was 54.9 percent. Guadalupe School surpassed the target, achieving 71.8 percent. If that is not impressive enough, the Utah State 2016 target for increases in English Learners who actually attained English proficiency was 8.3 percent, and Guadalupe School reached more than seven times that goal, achieving 59.5 percent.
So what is it that sets Guadalupe School apart? Katina Santamaria, Guadalupe School principal, says, “Individual attention, because of small class sizes, and the availability of paraprofessionals.” She goes on to explain that Guadalupe classes have a maximum of 25 students, who are taught and tutored by a teacher and a paraprofessional. This instructor to student ratio allows for teachers and assistants to really get to know their students, and understand their language skill level as it changes over time. When necessary, a single student can be worked with personally, in order to help meet their individual needs.
Ms. Santamaria goes on to state that the multi-program approach of Guadalupe School as a charitable organization also helps foster a culture that encourages a family effort when it comes to English Language proficiency. Several parents who have students enrolled in one of the Early Learning Center programs or in the Charter School are enrolled themselves in the Adult Education program, where they take either morning or night classes to learn English. When parents and children learn a language simultaneously, parents are better able to understand and support their child.
Needless to say, Guadalupe families and staff are extremely appreciative of the resources and services provided in order to allow for such progress. Learning a new language is difficult for anyone! The stress is only increased when one is dependent on a new language in order to best assimilate into a new culture or country, and achieve academic and professional success. Fortunately, Guadalupe School is leading the state in helping its students make learning English a reality.
**Guadalupe School is a United Way of Salt Lake Community School**