English Learner (EL) Program

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The English Learner (EL) program in the Olympia School District provides support for eligible students whose first language is a language other than English. Currently, there are approximately 250 eligible EL students in the district and almost every school has students enrolled in the EL program. Our EL population is quite diverse with over 30 different languages and even more cultures represented.

Content-based ESL is the language instruction model used in our district. Under this model, classes are taught in English by teachers that differentiate or modify lessons making content understandable for their students. Since EL students are expected to meet the same high academic standards as their native English speaking peers, it is important that they understand the subject matter covered throughout their school day.

Though the majority of language learning takes place in the general education classroom, each eligible EL student is also assigned a teacher endorsed in English language development (ELD) who evaluates and monitors the language proficiency and progress of each student throughout the year. The EL teacher also works with the classroom teacher(s) to plan the best strategies to meet the language accommodation requirements of their students. Most EL students receive direct, supplemental support from either their EL teacher or a para-professional trained in ELD strategies. However, service can be provided in a variety of ways depending on the student's language needs and stage of development.

  • An English Language Development (ELD) class is offered as an elective for all qualifying high school EL students.

  • Support can be provided in small groups, individually or through extra help in the classroom.

  • For those students performing at grade level, the EL teacher may only provide indirect support by monitoring the student's language and academic progress.

  • Extended Day programs may be provided with additional opportunities for before school or after school support and also during summer school.

How does a student qualify for the District's EL program?

The EL program's qualification process begins when the parent or guardian enrolls the student and completes the Home Language Survey. All students in the district are given this survey during the enrollment process. If it is returned indicating that a language other than English was the first language learned by the student, then their English language proficiency must be assessed using the state's placement test. Students scoring in the Emerging range (Level 1 or 2) or in the Progressing range (Levels 3 or 4) qualify for EL program services. Students that score Proficient (Level 5) are not eligible for EL supplemental support and will not be enrolled in the program. Each year the student's English language proficiency must be reassessed to determine continued eligibility until they achieve a Proficient (Level 5) score.

EL Program Staff

Bob Hodges: EL Program Director/Administrator
Carol Richardson: EL Program Coordinator
Margaret Arnett: EL Teacher
Ineke Berhitoe: EL Teacher
Jill Johnson: EL Teacher
Rebecca Hughes: EL Teacher

For more information on EL program and staff, contact the Student Support Office located in Room 310 on the third floor of the Knox Administrative Center at:
1113 Legion Way SE.
Olympia, WA 98501
Phone 596-7530

State Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program

The Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program (TBIP) is the branch of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) that provides grant funding that helps support the district's EL program.

TBIP, with the involvement of parents, educators, and community, addresses the unique needs of students from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds and helps them become proficient so they can meet the high content and performance standards expected of all students in Washington State.

Learn more about TBIP here: The State Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program (state) and Title III (federal)

District Interpretation and Translation Support

Interpretation Services (verbal)

  • District contracted interpreters using the "Request for Interpretation" form available through Student Support

  • If no interpreter can be present, District staff will utilize the the phone interpretation service, CTS LanguageLink, to communicate with parents.

  • Instructions for CTS LanguageLink: dial 888-338-7394, provide the district account number (15560#) and school code (3 digit school ID followed by 39#).

  • District staff may contact Becky Paxton by phone at (360) 596-7546 or at paxtonr@osd.wednet.edu with questions or concerns, or to obtain information or assistance regarding interpretation services.

Translation services (written)

  • District staff may contact the Communications and Community Relations office by phone at (360) 596-6103 with questions or concerns, or to obtain information or assistance regarding translation services.


Spanish Message Line


  • The District has launched a telephone message line for Spanish-speaking families who have questions about the Olympia School District.


Translated Resources for Parents


Resources for Classroom Teachers

ELPP Standards with Correspondence to K-12 and Common Core State Standards