Push-in Services to Support EL Students in CTE

Posted on Categories English Learners, Special Populations

At a Glance

At Erie High School, an English Learner (EL) instructor provides services inside CTE classes (“pushes in”) to support EL students.


Erie High School is a comprehensive high school that offers 18 CTE programs. As of the 2020-2021 school year, 262 students, or 16 percent of the student population, are identified as English Learners. Across CTE programs, EL students make up 15 percent of enrolled students. Certain CTE programs tend to enroll higher percentages of EL students:

  • Medical Assistant – 30%
  • Auto Body – 24%
  • Nursing Assistant –19%
  • Auto Mechanics –17%.

Erie High is focused on recruiting more students in general to its CTE programs, and it is particularly focused on recruiting more EL students. Administrators and instructors believe EL students may be discouraged from enrolling in CTE programs due to language barriers. To address this challenge, the faculty works to provide sufficient learning supports and resources to EL students so that they can take full advantage of what the CTE programs can offer them.

During the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year, the CTE director reviewed achievement data of EL students enrolled in CTE programs. She found that while EL students did well in the performance aspect of their CTE classes, at times they struggled with the written work. Instructors supported this finding – noticing that EL students may struggle with the technical language but not with the actual skill performance portion of class.

Recognizing EL students could benefit from additional support, the administration looked for practical interventions that could be implemented soon. A review of class sizes and staffing in the EL department indicated that one EL teacher could provide “push-in services” in CTE classes for the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year.

“Push-in services” mean that the intervention is provided inside the CTE classroom environment, as opposed to “pull-out” services where the student would meet with the EL support staff is a separate location.

Before starting to push in to the CTE classrooms, the EL teacher spent the first two weeks of the second semester observing students and talking with instructors to determine the level of service each EL student would require. He used this information to devise his push-in schedule.

The EL teacher currently pushes in to about ten CTE classes a week, spending more time in those classes with a higher percentage of EL students. He is in the room for the direct instruction portion of the class and then works with small groups of students or individual students as they complete their assignments. In many ways, the EL push-in model mirrors the push-in model used for special education students. (In contrast, EL teachers do not push into the academic classrooms at Erie High. Most EL students are either in a self-contained classroom or the regular academic classroom based on WIDA scores.)

Since implementing the push-in model, the EL instructor finds his students are receptive to the additional support he can provide them. However, due to COVD-19 restrictions, students are in the building only one day a week and so the EL instructor is limited in how often he can work with the students face-to-face. Administrators and instructors are optimistic that once in-person learning becomes more frequent, EL students will benefit even more from the push-in support.

Additional Support for EL Students and Families
The Erie School District is home to a large refugee population. Approximately 27 different languages are spoken across families in Erie. To help support these families, the school district employs three full-time interpreters who are housed at Erie High and serve the entire district. They work primarily with students, meeting with them as needed. At the request of parents or school faculty, the interpreters also will make phone calls and home visits.


Erie High plans to collect student performance data from the 2020-2021 school year to determine if the performance of EL students in CTE classes with push-in services improved.


Erie High School
Pamela A. Mackowski, Director of Career and Technical Education