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Audit Finds 'Inconsistent Approaches' In Portland School's ELL Programs

The Portland school district’s programs for students who speak languages other than English haven’t had proper leadership, collaboration, or follow-through, according to a new audit released Tuesday.

Previous investigations have found Portland Public Schools out of compliance for its English Language Learner programs in 13 of the last 17 years.

The latest audit found inconsistent approaches. And it found that incremental funding increases have not narrowed a big achievement gap between ELL and mainstream students.

Teachers and administrators told the auditor of a confusing, “putting out fires” approach to ELL, rather than a coherent strategy.

In her response, Superintendent Carole Smith said efforts to improve teacher training, monitoring of students, and collaboration are underway.

Her chief of staff, Zeke Smith, says a specialist is also being hired to help the ELL director.

Zeke Smith: “We will be putting a one-on-one intervention officer in place. That person will provide coaching to the director on how to move forward on the recommendations of the audit. And will also provide more direct feedback to the superintendent.”

Smith says the intervention officer is the district’s response to the audit’s call for a top-level task force on the English learning programs.