English as a Second Language (ESL)

English as a Second Language (ESL)

North Hills contracts with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit for our English as a Second Language (ESL) Program. Staff members are available in both the secondary and elementary schools. Our elementary students who qualify as needing this service are transported to McIntyre Elementary School.

Our goal is to continue to provide language acquisition instruction in a nurturing and productive environment so as to provide the ESL student with ongoing success in the classroom as well as within the community.

Placement and Testing

The W-APT Placement Test is used as an evaluation tool for placement of English Language Learning students. The evaluation is given after enrollment is completed within the district and if the home language survey indicates any of the following:

  • A student has a first home language other than English
  • A student was born outside of the United States
  • A student has a dominant first language other than English that may interfere with learning the academic curriculum

To determine maintaining placement in the program and English proficiency, the WIDA ACCESS state tests are administered to all students actively participating in the ESL program. These tests are administered annually from the end of January until the first week in March.

Exiting Procedures

Several components of criteria need to be met for any student exiting the ESL program as follows:

  • Scoring proficient in all areas of listening, reading, speaking and writing on the WIDA ACCESS tests on a Tier Level C test
  • Maintaining adequate grades in both the ESL and mainstreamed classroom in core content areas
  • Obtaining a basic or above score on PSSA evaluations, if in a grade-level taking PSSA exams
  • ESL teacher and regular classroom teacher observations and portfolios


Throughout any educational career, the laws, regulations and standards must be followed. We have envisioned and created the ESL program based on the state guidelines and regulations, as well as introduced new innovations to enhance the learning needs of the students and ensure success in the classroom.

Allegheny Intermediate Unit

K-12 English as a Second Language Program

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit's K-12 English as a Second Language (ESL) Program has been serving linguistically diverse children in and around Allegheny County for more than 35 years. This program provides English Learners daily instruction in the areas of Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing in English by certified ESL teachers.

Generally, this instruction is delivered to students by way of small group, pull-out instruction. Students are grouped with students of similar age, grade, and language proficiency level. They are provided with daily instruction in alignment with recommended hours from the Pennsylvania Basic Education Circular for Educating English Learners. The instruction is also aligned to PA Core Standards, PA English Language Development (ELD) Standards, and supported by a high quality, research-based language acquisition curriculum.

Students are assessed annually with the WIDA ACCESS for ELLs test to monitor growth in language proficiency and to determine the continued need for support with English language development. The amount and duration of ESL pull-out instruction may decrease as the student’s language proficiency increases. Students have the opportunity to exit the ESL program annually and the Pennsylvania Department of Education requirements for exit are followed.

Each child’s ESL teacher collaborates with his/her classroom and content area teachers to monitor progress in the general curriculum. Information, strategies, and resources are regularly shared to assure that the child’s language needs are met.

Parents are informed of the child’s progress in English language development through both grades on the school district report card as well as the ESL supplemental report card that reports the student’s progress in the four domains of language.

Once a child is no longer in need of daily support with language development and they exit the ESL program, their progress is monitored for a period of 4 years.
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