[NLA] Questions/Discussion: How is NRS follow-up going?]
Bermanpo at aol.com
Bermanpo at aol.com
Sun Nov 18 23:47:03 EST 2001
At the Riverside Language Program, an intensive ESOL program for
newly-arrived documented immigrants and refugees in New York City, we coded
students last year according to their stated goals at registration. Since
our program is intensive -- 160 hours over a 6.5 week period -- and since
most of our students do want and need to get a job, we wrote what they said
about their goals.
We did extensive follow-up for those students whose next steps were unknown
at the time they left the school. We sent letters and e-mails but had our
greatest success in reaching former students by calling them at home at
night. That meant that some of our full-time daytime staff had to work at
night to make those calls. We had more than a 50% response.
A great number of students who said that they wanted to get jobs were
successful: our percentages are around 90%. It's also true that most of the
students who said that college or training was their goal were successful in
being accepted into and beginning such education and/or training.
We have several general concerns about NRS and our program. First, there's
no place to record the achievement of goals AFTER three months past students'
exit quarter. It's our experience that, for new immigrants and refugees, it
often takes more than three months after the exit quarter for students to
take the next step. We're very interested in what happens to our students
and how long it takes. If we're going to do the arduous job of followup, we
want it to be meaningful to us and not just to the government.
Second, the NRS report doesn't show when students progress more than one
level. In an intensive program in which it's possible for students to study
in four (or more) different sequential 6.5 week cycles, our students often
complete more than one level during a 10-month school year. Yet, that's not
shown at all.
Third, there's no place that indicates, at the end of a program year, which
students are expected to reenroll during the next fiscal year because they hav
en't completed their studies even though they may have finished a 6.5 week
cycle. Therefore, we're expected to followup students on the goals that are
related to finishing their studies when at least 50 students every June
reopen their registration in August or September.
It's our feeling that students, especially those who can't speak English and
are newly-arrived, cannot actually say in a realistic way what their goals
are when they register: they may not be able to distinguish between a
long-term goal (eg: a job) and a short-term goal (e.g.: a training program).
This is much too subtle a question to be asking at the point of registration.
It would make more sense to check only educational goals at the start and to
check other goals -- employment, training, higher education -- once students
have actually achieved them.
Finally, of course, the test that's used to measure progress according to
NRS' six levels is very significant. We have received permission to use
ACTFL's Oral Proficiency Instrument which is far better than the New York
State Placement Test required of most ESOL programs in New York State.
Hope this is helpful to those of you reading.
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