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Practices with Promise Success Story

Submitted By: Carolyn Vang-Walker, Ventura County Adult Education Consortium

ESL Acquisition and Student Success in Math Collaboration

The Challenge

Math homework presents a challenge to many parents of elementary students, and especially to the parents of students identified as English Language Learners. The goal of this program was to target one of the lowest performing schools in Ventura County in regards to academics and provide an afterschool program that would enable ELL parents to gain the basic math skills necessary to effectively assist their children with their math homework. The students most in need of assistance were identified as those who scored below basic on trimester benchmark tests.

The Solution

In partnership with Will Rogers Elementary School, VACE identified a group of twenty students and invited them and their parents to attend a ten-week course, meeting twice a week for two hours. The course was taught by a Will Rogers elementary math teacher. Excel Math was utilized as a core curriculum, and used to introduce not only math concepts and practice, but also math-specific vocabulary. Parents and children worked together to complete lessons which related to the math being taught in regular classes. The after school program provided classes where contextualized basic mathematics served as a vehicle for student math success and parent language acquisition.


Sixteen parents and their children enrolled in the program, and all successfully completed the course. Parents expressed greatly increased confidence in their ability to assist their children with math homework and the children showed improved mastery in class. The instructor reported that this pilot program had a positive impact on the performance of the participating children during their regular school day. All participants stated that they would welcome the opportunity to repeat such a course. The principal at Will Rogers School requested that VACE continue to offer the math success course again next fall. The VUSD Director of Curriculum and Instruction hopes that the pilot will be expanded to include additional elementary schools.

The Data

Parents were pre- and post-tested in CASAS math and reading. Post-tests revealed an average 5.4-point gain in math, and an average 3.3-point gain in reading. 37% completed an Educational Functional Level. The Ventura Unified School District's first trimester benchmark tests were utilized as pre-tests for the children, and a mirror-test for post-test will be administered next week. The teacher is confident that the results will indicate significant improvement. The instructor of the 4th grade class was able to verify improved levels of confidence exhibited by the children during the daytime math class, as well as, the increased ELL parental involvement with homework assistance.

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