April 8, 2013

Student Record Sheets

In many schools, the ESL teacher is the go-to person for information about an ELL's background, history, and home life.  With the ELL population in a school constantly changing as new students arrive, move away, or test out of services, it can be  challenging to keep track of everything you need to know about a student.

Here is the record-keeping form that I complete for each of my students.  Obviously, no piece of paper can encompass everything we come to know about a child.  This sheet is simply a tool that allows me to quickly understand and explain an ELL's history and learning profile.

These sheets stay with the student throughout their time in our school.  At the end of each year I place the sheet back in the student's permanent file so that the next year's ESL teacher has access to the information I've gathered.  These forms have been so helpful at parent conferences, placement and articulation meetings, support team meetings, and in completing progress reports.  To download a copy of this form, please click here.

  • I've found it very helpful to include the student's date of birth on the form.  In some countries--South Korea, for example--a child is considered a year old when he is born.  This can cause some confusion when a first grader is telling you he is having his eighth birthday.  In actuality, the student is the same age as the other children in his class, but is counting the years differently.  Having the student's date of birth on hand helps me to calculate the student's age and assess whether his behavior and academic performance is age-appropriate.
  • Date of entry  lets you quickly see how long the student has been enrolled in ESL.  A long-term ELL needs different instruction than a newcomer. 
  • Native language is especially helpful when a student comes from a country with many languages, such as India.
  • Country of origin is important to note because sometimes people can fall into the trap of assuming that ethnicity equals nationality.  Many ELLs are United States citizens and have never lived outside of the U.S.  A Chinese ELL who has lived his whole life here has a very different learning profile than an ELL who has lived in China until moving here in third grade.
  • In the notes section I include any other pertinent information, usually about schooling history (whether the student moves often and has been enrolled in several schools) or family background (an older sibling who received--or didn't receive--ESL, whether the native language is spoken in the home, etc.).
  • In New York State, where I teach, the Language Assessment Battery-Revised (LAB-R) is the test given to all new students whose parents indicate upon enrollment that there is a language other than English present in the home.  I've found it useful to have the student's score on hand, as well as the cut-off for ESL eligibility.  This way, I'm able to see whether the student started ESL services as a true beginner or just barely tested into the program.  You could revise the sheet to reflect the measure your school uses to identify ELLs.
  • I also record the names of the classroom teachers in each grade.  It's helpful to have a record of who has worked with the student in case you ever need to go back and talk with previous teachers about the student's progress.  I write down any important information for each year, such as whether the student received support services, was part of a Response to Intervention process, or was brought up to the school's Instructional Support Team.
  • In New York, students are tested on their progress in speaking, listening, reading, and writing English in May of each year.  The results of the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) determine how many weekly hours of ESL an ELL is entitled to the following year.  I record the student's NYSESLAT scores for each year so I can see the student's progress at a glance.  It can also be helpful to see whether a student consistently scores lower on the oral language measures (speaking and listening) or written language measures (reading and writing), and determine an appropriate instructional plan from there.  Again, revise the sheet to track students' progress on whatever tests your school uses.
To download the back of the student record form, please click here.

On the backside of the paper, I record information about the students' performances on district assessments.  Here is an example for keeping track of a student's reading level and knowledge of sight words, but you could update the document to reflect the assessments most pertinent to your teaching.  Recording not only the student's actual performance, but the expected benchmark as well, allows you to see whether your student is at or approaching grade level expectations for a native English speaker.

I can't tell you how helpful it's been for us to have this living document for each student.  I hope it's as useful for you!

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