Midpeninsula Post

Los Altos High to offer English language development program next school year

Los Altos High School in August 2021. (Arya Nasikkar)

Historically, only one comprehensive Mountain View-Los Altos site has offered English language development classes: Mountain View High.

That’s meant that English learners within Los Altos boundaries — students who don’t speak English as a primary language — have had to travel to Mountain View to access appropriate support, when they would otherwise attend Los Altos High.

Next year, though, that all changes. The board of trustees on Monday night voted to open an English language development program at Los Altos, broadening access to support classes and meeting the needs of the growing English-learner population at Los Altos.

Both an increase in ELD enrollment and the inconvenience of traveling to Mountain View High School were catalysts for the new Los Altos program.

“A typical Los Altos English language learner that attends Mountain View High School [uses] public transportation,” said Associate Superintendent Teri Faught. “We have heard time and time again from these students and their parents [about] the hardships of the transportation of getting to Mountain View High School. … And it has become a challenge to the attendance of some of our English language learners.”

Previously, the district only offered EL classes at Mountain View in order to concentrate resources at one site, Faught said.

At a minimum, the new Los Altos program will include ELD 1-4 classes — which refer to classes for different levels of EL proficiency — and could include other EL content classes like biology and civics depending on enrollment. The budget allocates a maximum of $320,000 for the new Los Altos program.

Any Los Altos EL students currently attending Mountain View will be able to choose between campuses next year, though any incoming Los Altos-boundary EL freshmen and transfer students will attend Los Altos High.

Currently, the Mountain View ELD program actually serves more Los Altos than Mountain View students; of the 168 EL students at Mountain View, 92 are from Los Altos and 76 are from Mountain View.

“I do want to note that although Los Altos does not [currently] have English language development classes, they have done a fantastic job of providing support and skills classes and resources to [support] the EL learners who have chosen to stay at Los Altos High School,” Faught said. 

66 EL students attend Los Altos High, though 38.6% of those students are “progressing toward English proficiency,” as opposed to 53.8% at Mountain View, which Faught pointed to as a testament of the impact of having a dedicated ELD program.

“This is not about Mountain View High School or Los Altos High School,” Faught said. “This is simply about development classes versus no development classes, and communicating how important it is to have targeted classes.”

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