School District offers special registration, assessment for students who speak languages other than English
This week, the School District’s Multilingual Access Center kicked off its seventh annual Special Registration and Assessment program for students and families who speak a language other than English.
Registering children for schools can often be a daunting process for parents, and even more so for parents who speak languages other than English and are faced with navigating a different education system in a new country. But the School District of Philadelphia’s Multilingual Assessment Center (MAC) has been working to change that for the past seven years with its special registration and assessment program for new students, offered each summer.
From Monday, July 30, until Aug. 17, students and their families who are speakers of languages other than English can receive tailored support from MAC in the new student registration and assessment process at the MAC office at 440 N. Broad Street, any time between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
There, the MAC staff will provide translation and interpretation services for non-English speakers, as well as help parents navigate the registration process while learning more about the resources available in District schools. Students will also have the opportunity to be screened to determine whether they are in need of English as a Second Language (ESL) services.
“It's a one-stop shop. They're able to come here, and we're the first people that they meet and we’re able to do everything for them,” said Debra Green, coordinator of MAC, explaining that the MAC registration and assessment team is able to work with students and their families to consider both language needs and other special education or medical needs in registering students at the schools where they will be best supported.
We invite students who are new to Philadelphia and speak a language other than English to come register for school at 440 N. Broad Street. We encourage you to come before August 17th. For more information visit us at https://t.co/msJ1BQBpHh @PHLschools pic.twitter.com/jUzuTiEL0f
— SDP Multilingual (@sdp_multilingua) July 31, 2018
Green added that the benefits the center hopes to provide immigrant and families who speak languages other than English are holistic, as the goal of the process is to be “more of a comfort" and to help families "to feel safe.”
“A lot of our parents and families have experienced a trauma in coming to the United States, so when they get here we don’t want them to have to repeat that experience,” Green said.
In its seventh year, the MAC special registration and assessment process usually serves around 600-700 families in the three weeks to a month that it operates the special registration process in the summer. Throughout the school year last year, more than 1,100 students from 84 countries, speaking more than 50 languages, were able to benefit from MAC services.
The center also serves as a "liaison between different community agencies and the School District," said Green, noting that MAC administrators are able to connect parents to adult ESOL classes or any other social services and resources that they may be in need of but aren't sure how to access.
According to Green, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, the largest group of students the center serviced came from Puerto Rico, which, though part of the United States, is a Spanish-dominant context and many students who arrived in Philadelphia after being displaced by the natural disaster were in need of ESL support.
Other students and families assisted by MAC last school year alone came from various regions and countries of origin, including large numbers from the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Liberia, Central America (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador), China, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Guinea, Haiti, Syria, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Colombia.
Families and students can also visit the MAC website for more information and resources about student enrollment in the School District of Philadelphia, available in Spanish as well as several other languages.