"This class makes me feel like I belong,” states one 11th grade Humanities Amped English Learner. English Learners often feel marginalized in classes where they might not feel they are intentionally welcomed, and a language barrier might make it harder to make friends. The culturally-responsive approach of Humanities Amped centers on student well-being and community building, which makes English Learners feel like part of a classroom family.
English Learners (ELs) feeling welcomed has translated into better academic outcomes: ELs enrolled in the Humanities Amped EL Pilot Program in the 2017-2018 school year experienced a 100% graduation rate in 2018 (compared to a 67% rate for McKinley High seniors overall). The 2018-2019 school year also saw a 100% graduation rate for ELs. One graduating English Learner shared, “I feel like this is one of the few classes that makes me feel ready for college.”
Humanities Amped English Learners appreciate the CPAR (Critical Participatory Action Research) process as a way to improve their English skills. One 10th grader stated, “Our research project helped us to lose the fear of speaking in public.” In addition to gaining confidence in speaking, this year's Humanities Amped English Learners grew in writing. In particular, the 11th graders scored 10 points higher than the district average in writing on the English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT), the state test used to measure growth in the sub categories of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Remarkably, 63% of all Humanities Amped English Learners increased
one level in one or more sub category!
Having capable, highly-trained English Learner staff makes a huge difference for students who need additional support. One ninth grader shared, “When my grades started to lower, teachers noticed. They asked me what was happening. I did not want to talk to anyone because I felt they would judge me. But they talked to me and listened. I realized teachers do not just teach, they also listen when we have problems.” With enough support, English Learners are able to excel in their other classes. At the end of 2018, one out of three ELs at McKinley High were on the McKinley Honor Roll for all of their classes for the fall semester, a significant increase from the previous year's one out of twenty.
At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year one student wrote, “My goal for this year of school is [to] have great grades and make my mom proud of me.” The Humanities Amped English Learner Cohort certainly has many accomplishments to be proud of.