Board agrees to discuss funding for reading specialist and implementation of an ELD program at LAHS


Olivia Hewang

The Mountain View–Los Altos School Board will discuss the integration of an English Language Development program at LAHS similar to the one at MVHS. Additionally, the English department at both LAHS and MVHS both supported the addition of a reading specialist.

The Mountain View–Los Altos School Board agreed to discuss the addition of a reading specialist at both Los Altos and Mountain View high schools at a board meeting on Monday, November 8. They also discussed implementation of an English Language Development (ELD) program at LAHS, per the request of the LAHS English department.

This request comes after analyzing both schools’ performance on the Standardized Testing and Reporting (Star) Renaissance test that freshmen are required to take during the first few weeks of school. The test measures reading comprehension and compares students’ reading skills relative to their grade level. This fall, 29 percent of freshmen at LAHS were found to be below grade level in terms of reading, a 4 percent increase from last fall. Over 140 freshmen have been identified as needing “intervention,” and over 80 freshmen would benefit from a reading specialist, according to English Department Coordinator Margaret Bennett.

Bennett advocated for a reading specialist at both schools, citing that students have fundamental issues with reading comprehension — those that secondary school English teachers aren’t trained to supplement. Reading specialists would pull students out for their classes for one-on-one training, and could be a resource for teachers to learn how to best support students who struggle with reading.

“This is a school-wide issue — it impacts a student’s ability to access material in all of their classes,” Bennett said. “As reading is used in essentially every class, students who struggle greatly with reading will naturally struggle with subjects other than English.”

Bennett also pushed for the creation of a formal English Language Development (ELD) program at LAHS, one that provides additional linguistic support to students as necessary, similar to the program at MVHS. Los Altos High used to have an ELD program, but the district decided to concentrate the services at one MVHS a number of years ago. Someone who qualifies for ELD services should be at MVHS; however, this is not always the case.

“There are at least sixty-five students that would qualify for ELD services and we don’t have anything for them formally — and that’s problematic,” Bennett said. MVHS has 169 students who qualify while LAHS has 65, which is still a substantial number of students who would greatly benefit from the implementation of a formal ELD program.

The Board agreed to discuss the funding and details of having a reading specialist at each school; the topic will be discussed at future board meetings.