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3 months late, LAUSD hiring Standard English Learner coaches

Vanessa Romo | March 6, 2015

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Sylvia Rousseau, Liaison LAUSD Board District 1

Sylvia Rousseau, Liaison LAUSD Board District 1


Nearly three months after missing a self-imposed deadline, LA Unified is finally close to filling 10 positions to help thousands of native English speakers who struggle to learn academic English.

With nine hired, there’s one to go.

The school board passed the “Strengthen Support for Standard English Learners” resolution last June and devised a plan to hire 10 SEL Coaches by mid-December. They would receive special professional development training to help teachers connect with their students and theoretically play an instrumental role in closing the achievement gap between some of the highest and lowest performing pupils.

According to the district’s plan, two SEL coaches would be assigned to each of the district’s five Educational Service Centers “to build the capacity of the ESC staff and teachers of SELs concerning best practices.”

The program was conceived through the guidance of Sylvia Rousseau, who served last year as the school board liaison for District 1 after the death of Marguerite LaMotte until George McKenna won a special election. District 1 has a high concentration of African-American and Latino SEL students.

Rousseau, a professor at the USC Rossier School of Education, contends the key to improving academic performance in the most troubled schools and boosting graduation rates is early intervention with SELs. Part of the strategy is to teach kids how to “code-switch” between the language they speak at home and in their neighborhoods and the academic language they are expected to use in standardized testing.

District officials offered no explanation for the delay in hiring the coaches. But Hilda Maldonado, head of the Multilingual and Multicultural department, told LA School Report interviews only began the first week of February.

Thomas Waldman, a district spokesperson, said the nine coaches have been hired as of this week. “They will receive monthly professional development starting this month,” he said, adding that they will be housed in nine schools.

He did not specify when the district plans to hire the 10th coach.

As another part of this program the district added five administrative level coordinators to each ESC charged with supporting “the infusion of instruction into the common core” for SEL students, according to district officials.


*Update includes additional information about the program.


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