English Learner (EL) Program

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The Olympia School District English Learner Program

The Olympia School District values bilingualism and views the cultural and linguistic diversity of our students as an asset that makes each classroom, school, and the whole district stronger, more innovative and better prepared for a global society. Our staff is committed to providing high quality education programs designed to ensure students from all backgrounds are served in an equitable and inclusive environment. Classroom teachers provide students with meaningful access to grade level curricula throughout the school day as students acquire the English language skills needed to achieve their full academic potential. English Learner (EL) program staff serve each eligible student by providing individualized language support designed to ensure EL students acquire full English proficiency as quickly and effectively as possible. 

EL Program Facts

  • About 2.5% of the total student population (approximately 250-275 students) qualify for EL program services.
  • EL students are enrolled in 17 of the district’s K-12 schools.
  • Our students come from various cultures and speak over 25 different languages including Spanish, Vietnamese, and Chinese, which are the most prevalent.
  • Over 77% of our EL students showed progress toward or reached English language proficiency in 2017. (ESSA Accountability Data Report 3/9/2018)
  • Our district has one of the highest transition rates in the state. In 2017, 28.6% of our EL students achieved English language proficiency. (2017 OSPI Data Report for Title III/TBIP)
  • The number of eligible EL students in the district has increased by 37% since 2008. (OSPI Report Card)


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

In Washington state, the qualification process for the EL program begins when a parent or guardian enrolls their child and completes a Home Language Survey. If the returned survey indicates that a language other than English was the first language learned or is currently used by the student, then his/her English language proficiency must be assessed. The English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) is the language proficiency test used in Washington schools. This assessment measures a student’s English language knowledge and skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The ELPA21 language screener is used to determine initial eligibility for the EL program. Continued eligibility is based on the annual ELPA21 summative assessment. For additional information regarding the ELPA21 please visit the website at ELPA21.


Family Guide to the ELPA21 Summative Assessment: What is the ELPA21 assessment?

  • The ELPA21 assessment system measures a student’s proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, listening to, and understanding English.  
  • At the end of each school year, all designated ELLs are required to take the ELPA21 summative assessment. Results  from that assessment are used to determine whether a student still qualifies as an English language learner or  whether a student has achieved a sufficient level of proficiency in English so that he or she no longer needs support  and can exit the school’s ELL program.
  • Students that are provisional this year due to COVID 19 protocols are required to take the ELPA 21 summative assessment.
  • This year, it will be administered Monday, March 22-June 4, 2021. Families that have chosen to have their children attend hybrid, in-person learning, will be assessed by the school’s EL Specialist.
  • For families who choose to have their children remain remote/distance learning, the assessment can be taken by appointment in coordination with the EL Specialist and English Learner Coordinator (weekdays and Saturday appointments will be offered at the Knox Administrative Building: 111 Bethel St NE, Olympia, WA 98506
  • Students that do not take the ELPA 21 this Spring due to the pandemic will automatically be eligible for English Learner support in 2021-2022.
  • Questions? Email Heather Randolph at hrandolph@osd.wednet.edu or contact your child’s EL Specialist.


EL Program Services

Supportive Mainstream is the language instruction model used in the Olympia School District. Under this model, classes are taught in English by content teachers that differentiate or modify lessons making them comprehensible for all students. Since EL students are expected to meet the same high academic standards as their native English speaking peers, it is important that they have access to all subject matter covered in their classrooms throughout the school day.

Each eligible EL student is assigned to a teacher endorsed in English as a Second Language. EL teachers are responsible for designing an individual language learning plan as well as evaluating and monitoring the language proficiency and academic progress of each of their EL students throughout the year. The EL teachers collaborate regularly with classroom teachers to ensure the language accommodation requirements of EL students are met. In addition, EL students receive direct supplemental support from either their EL teacher or a para-professional trained in English language development (ELD) strategies. Varying levels of support are provided depending on the individual student needs, grade level, and stage of language development or English language proficiency. Some examples of language support include:

  • Pull-out support: small group or individual intervention provides intensive language instruction outside the classroom.
  • Push-in support: EL para-professionals provide supplemental language support to help students understand classroom routines, expectations, and core content.
  • Team teaching: the classroom teacher and the EL teacher work together to provide language support and core content simultaneously.
  • EL Cluster schools: Capital High School and Thurgood Marshall Middle School offer an English Language Development (ELD) elective class taught by EL teachers to all qualifying EL students. Transportation is provided to EL students choosing to attend an EL Cluster school.
  • Extended Day programs: EL staff offer additional opportunities for language and/or literacy support before school or after school in a “homework club” type of environment at many schools.
  • Extended year services: EL program provides supplemental support and tuition for students enrolled in the district’s high school summer school program.


EL Program Staff

Heather Randolph: EL Program Coordinator

Margaret Arnett: EL Specialist/Teacher 

Jill Johnson: EL Specialist/Teacher

Christine Kaufman: EL Specialist/Teacher
Chelsea Peterson: EL Specialist/Teacher

Alison Eastlake: EL Specialist
Melissa Wood: EL Specialist/Teacher


Alexandra Baker: EL Para-educator

Jill Cross: EL Para-educator
Alicia Dufay: EL Para-educator
Tiffahni Ellison: EL Para-educator
Violet Loose: EL Para-educator

Lamia Murphy: EL Para-educator

Jue Lu: EL Para-educator

Connie Phegley: EL Para-educator

Marie Rubin: EL Para-educator

Amanda Yonker: EL Para-educator

For more information on the EL program and staff, contact the Student Support Office located in Room 275 the Knox Administrative Center at:

111 Bethel Street NE.

Olympia, WA 98506

Phone 596-7530


Additional Information and Resources


Parent Involvement

Parents can support their child’s education in a number of ways:

  • Help your child maintain their native language by continuing to speak and read stories with your children in your language. Knowing more than one language is a skill to be valued and encouraged.
  • Encourage your child to pursue biliteracy by learning to read and write proficiently in your language.
  • Studies have shown that when children continue to learn their native language, it makes the process of learning English easier.

Interpretation/Translation Services

Under state and federal law, all parents have the right to information about their child’s education in a language they can understand.
Title IV Regulations | Chapter 28A.642 RCW | Chapter 392-190 WAC

To learn about the district interpretation and translation support please visit our
Language Access page.

Transitional Bilingual Instructional and Title III Programs

The State Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program (TBIP) is part of the Washington’s Basic Education Act-Chapter 28A.180 RCW. The federal Title III program supports supplemental instruction and services for language acquisition. Both programs provide funds to districts throughout the state to ensure equal educational opportunities for students from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds. The goal of these programs is to develop language proficiency that enables meaningful access to grade level curricula and instruction. For more information visit: State Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program.

Washington State Seal of Biliteracy

The Seal of Biliteracy was created to recognize the importance of learning a second language for all students whether English is their first language or not. Students who speak, read and write a language other than English can earn world language credits in high school by demonstrating proficiency on nationally recognized assessments. When a student is awarded the Seal of Biliteracy, it is noted on the student’s diploma and high school transcript. For more information on the Seal of Biliteracy visit: Washington State Seal of Biliteracy.


Resources for Classroom Teachers

The Washington State English Language Development Standards (ELDs) is a resource for classroom teachers to use when working with EL students as they acquire English.

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