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English Learners Program » English Learners Program

English Learners Program

Waipahu High School is home to approximately 450 English Learners (ELs) and over 700 former ELs. These students contribute a wealth of knowledge and experiences to our school community. Their perspectives and backgrounds make Waipahu High School the special place it is. The EL department teachers are dedicated to providing our students with opportunities to engage with grade-level content, improve their academic language skills, and honor their linguistic and cultural assets. 


The Waipahu High School EL program has two main instructional settings, self-contained classes and inclusion classes. After an individual assessment, students are placed in the appropriate setting based on their English proficiency, length of time in US schools, teacher recommendations, and other factors.  


Self-contained classes are exclusively for EL students. Most students in self-contained classes are newly-arrived or have been in US schools for only a few years. Ninth- and tenth-grade self-contained students are in the Nation to Nation (N2N) small learning communities, N2N Blue for 9th grade and N2N Gold for 10th grade. These students are in English, math, science, social studies, and required elective classes with EL department teachers. Self-contained classes feature a dual focus on content (science, math, etc.) and academic language development, including language objectives for each lesson or unit.  EL teachers provide language supports, accommodations, and modifications for all students. Some self-contained EL students also take English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL 1 or 2) and/or English lab classes. Approximately 50% of EL students are in the self-contained setting.


EL students in the inclusion setting do not need as much English language support as the self-contained students. They are in "mainstream" classes alongside their non-EL peers. Teachers provide language supports and accommodations to support students' academic language development. 


Each year, all EL students take the ACCESS English language proficiency test to assess their academic language development. When a student earns an overall score of 5.0 or higher out of a possible 6.0 on the ACCESS test, they "test out" of the EL program and their academic progress is monitored for two years. Research shows that academic language proficiency in a second language takes at least 5-7 years to develop.


Many EL students earn the Seal of Biliteracy upon graduation, demonstrating proficiency in two or more languages.