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Enhanced EL Program Keeps Students At Their Home Schools

Naperville 203 is redesigning its English Learners (EL) program to ensure that all eligible junior high and high school students can receive EL services at their home school.

The program enhancement – approved by the Naperville 203 Board of education on Monday, Dec. 18 – will establish EL programs at all five of the school district’s junior highs and both high schools. The changes aim to address a 30 percent refusal rate among middle and high school students who are eligible for EL services, but may have to enroll in a school outside of their home’s boundaries to receive those services. 

At the elementary level, where EL services are already available at every school, the percentage of eligible students refusing EL services is significantly lower at just 2 percent.

“These changes will provide our students with opportunities to excel, both academically and culturally, in environments where they feel a connection to their neighborhood peers,” Naperville 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges said. “These changes bring us closer to providing equitable educational experiences for all students, and align with our innovative vision for student learning.”

Naperville 203’s EL student population continues to grow and has increased by 77 percent over the past 10 years – with 823 students eligible for EL services in January of 2013, compared to 1,460 students in November of 2023. Families who have refused services have shared that they elected to do so because they want their students closer to home, with neighborhood friends, and to avoid long bus rides.

Moving forward, each junior high and high school will house a comprehensive suite of services and resources to ensure every EL student's success, driven by a staff trained in best practices for EL instruction.

The three-phase rollout will begin in the 2024-2025 school year, when sixth-graders at all five junior highs will begin receiving EL services at their home schools. EL programming will grow into seventh grade, in all junior highs, and all Naperville Central grade levels beginning in the 2025-2026 school year, and will be fully implemented, at all grade levels, by the start of the 2026-2027 school year.

Families of students eligible for EL services will be receiving additional information about changes to the program. School administrators, along with the EL department, will collaborate with families to answer questions and address concerns as the changes are implemented.