Riverside Central

Elementary school


The Elementary School Newcomer Center
 is an intensive English language program at Riverside Central Elementary School in Rochester, Minnesota. The focus of the program is to provide basic English language literacy as well as cultural and school orientation to new arrivals.   Students with minimal or no knowledge of English study at the Newcomer Center to learn enough oral language, grammar, vocabulary, reading and writing to successfully access information taught in other classes at their grade level. In addition to English language classes, students also study mathematics, science, social studies, physical education, music, art, and computer technology. The language of instruction is English; however, district interpreters often assist to enhance communication.

How do students qualify for Newcomer Center Placement?

As part of the registration procedure, students first through fifth, take the W-APT, a language proficiency placement test. Based on the results of this assessment, students are either placed in a Newcomer Center or in a mainstream classroom with EL teacher support. Kindergarten students are placed in Newcomers based on an oral interview with the EL Register. Newcomer Centers accept students at all times throughout the school year.


Students with previous education can expect to attend the Newcomer Center for approximately one academic year. Those with limited or no previous schooling may require additional instructional time in a newcomer setting to prepare for a successful transition to content classes. Some students may participate in one or more mainstream classes while they are Newcomer students. This participation depends on the student's language and content area readiness. 

Method of Instruction

English listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills are taught in the Newcomer Center, in addition to content area curriculum. The students are divided into small groups according to their various levels and are taught by teachers and paraprofessionals in different groups throughout the 6-hour day. This small-group approach is also used for math instruction. At the elementary level, students are introduced to curriculum that they will encounter in the mainstream classrooms. Additionally, field trips to provide authentic language experiences are an integral part of the curriculum. For primary students, time is set aside daily for social language development.  

Exit Criteria

Assessments are given quarterly in the four language domains (listening, speaking, reading and writing) as well as in math, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. Students from 2nd grade to 5th grade will qualify to exit the Newcomer Center into the English Learner Program and mainstream classes when they demonstrate a 2.0-2.5 proficiency level in vocabulary and reading on the district and state assessments and can communicate orally at a “beginning” level as rated by the WIDA. They also must successfully complete the Newcomer Center competency checklist requirements.

In mathematics, students are expected to master whole number computation, fraction operations, decimals, and basic story problems in addition to basic math vocabulary before exiting the Newcomer Center.

First grade and kindergarten students qualify for exit after they have demonstrated mastery of their essential outcomes in reading and math, and sufficient oral language competency. Assessments are given on a monthly basis and focus on letter names, sounds, sight words, number recognition, number writing, and counting. For first graders, Every Day Math unit assessments are also given to all students. A running record level of 4 to 5 for the end of the year is the expectation for kindergarten. For first grade a running record level expectation of 8 to 12 is the end of the year goal. Kindergarten students are also expected to demonstrate significant growth on the PreLAS oral assessment (20+ points increase) by the end of the year.

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