Language Access in Schools
Equitable Learning Outcomes
No matter where you look, communities are becoming ever more diverse; a reality that is clearly visible in your local schools. One refreshing component of this diversity is the exposure to other languages and cultures. Of course, as families from other countries adjust to an English-speaking world around them, school systems must ensure that equitable learning outcomes are not only possible but also within the reach of every student. The first and most important step in creating such an environment is the establishment of a language access program. Once a language access program is in place, students and their families have access to language interpretation and translation services; resources that ensure an efficient and effective transfer of information at every touchpoint. Below is a list of requirements and benefits of a school language access program.
Identify LEP families
Schools are required to develop and implement a clearly defined and measurable program that identifies all limited English proficient (LEP) families, even those whose children are proficient in English. Once identified, a plan to meet the communication needs for each LEPs family’s must then be documented and made available to the staff.
Why Choose Volatia
Volatia has an intimate understanding of the communication barriers that English learners and LEP families experience in education. Our founder and CEO, Baraka Kasongo, was an English learner at William Fleming High School, and his family’s English proficiency was limited during his entire high school experience. For this reason, our school language access programs are designed to empower LEP parents or guardians and support the teachers who work tirelessly to build lasting connections with their children. Each language access program that Volatia implements in a school have the following components:
Many parents or guardians naturally rely on their children, who often speak English better, to interpret for them or translate notes that are sent home from teachers. As one would expect, a note sent home to advise the parent or guardian about a child’s poor performance is likely not going to be translated faithfully by the same student whose performance is questionable. This conflict of interest happens on a daily basis, perhaps even in your local school system. Thus, by providing professional language interpreters and translating relevant documents, schools help parents and guardians to participate in the education of their children in a meaningful way.
Home Language Survey
A home language survey is the most widely used tool in identifying LEP students and their families. To ensure legal compliance and guarantee that nothing is lost in translation, Volatia helps schools to make this form available in every language that is spoken in surrounding communities, even when such languages are rare. Language analysis for your region can be provided at no cost to your school.
LEP Call-In Line
Volatia’s proprietary technology allows schools to receive calls from LEP individuals in any language. The caller dials the number given to them by the school and connects to an interpreter in his or her native tung. The interpreter then conferences the school department the caller wishes to reach. These solutions increase school efficiency, improves productivity, and empowers LEP families.
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Every teacher or member of your staff can seamlessly access an interpreter in-person, over the phone, and on video in over 280 languages. Interpreter services can be scheduled in advance or activated on-demand, 24/7/365.
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Volatia helps schools turn every written communication they send to English-speaking families into the languages that LEP parents and guardians understand. This includes the school’s website, parent handbooks, student discipline policies, and procedures, requests for parent or guardian permission for student participation in school activities, report cards, and student performance notifications from teachers.
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Multi-lingual School Alert System
To ensure safety of LEP parents or guardians and their children, Volatia helps schools turn every emergency alert sent to English speaking families into the languages that LEP families understand. Just imagine the liability on the school if they failed to notify LEP parents and guardians of a serious threat and one of them died or suffered serious injury. A school messenger or emergency alert system that is powered by Volatia reflects the truth in the words of Benjamin Franklin: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Volatia language access programs meet the requirements set forth in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin, and Executive Order 13166, which affirms Title VI’s language access requirement. Other statutes touching on equal opportunity for children (and their parents) to participate in the educational process include the Equal Educational Opportunity Act, Title III of No Child Left Behind Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Provide Effective Language Assistance
Aside from being the right thing to do, the law requires that all public schools provide language interpretation and translation services to all parents and guardians who need them. Any program, service, or activity that is communicated to English-speaking parents must be also be conveyed to LEP families in their language, even when such languages are rare. Every effort must be made to ensure that only qualified interpreters and translators are used to communicate with LEP parents or guardians. Schools should not rely on or ask students, siblings, friends, or untrained school staff to translate or interpret for parents or guardians. To help schools meet compliance in this area, Volatia assesses all internal resources, such as bilingual staff, and includes those who qualify in the deployment of the language access program.
Leave No Child Behind
Students whose parents or guardians are limited in their English proficiency are at the mercy of the school to equalize their learning experiences. Research shows that students thrive when their parents understand and participate in the education of their children. To that end, these students deserve to have their LEP parents or guardians notified of school policies, events, programs, and resources in a language that they understand. By empowering LEP families to contribute to the learning outcomes of their children, schools ensure that no child is left behind.