Language instruction makes success possible for every student

Maryland district uses Rosetta Stone language solutions to boost literacy proficiency among ELLs
By: | Issue: November, 2015 | Case Study
September 30, 2015

More than 14.5 percent of the population of Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is comprised of students categorized as Limited English Proficient. And with more than 127,000 students districtwide, this is not an insignificant number and presents a unique challenge in meeting the district’s mission of instilling the ability to read, write, speak, listen and use numeracy.

“PGCPS is committed to helping all of our students master core literacy skills, regardless of their background ,” says Joie Austria, ESOL instructional specialist. “We know literacy is the foundation for success.”

In order to meet this goal, it is imperative to invest in effective education programs, notes Austria. The team in the ESOL department believes the right digital instructional programs can improve ELL students’ skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening. For PGCPS, that program is Rosetta Stone.

Rosetta Stone® English Language Solutions for K-12 give students the opportunity to learn and practice both social and academic language to improve and increase their English proficiency levels.

“We chose Rosetta Stone because it is one of the most advanced and effective digital programs for learning a new language,” says Austria. “The program is intuitive and simultaneously uses a mixture of words, pictures, speaking exercises and listening activities for an immersive, blended learning environment.”

When using Rosetta Stone’s language learning program, students begin to think in their new language from the very beginning, the same way they learned their first language. The program allows for constant interaction, requiring students to connect words with images to confirm meaning in a carefully designed sequence that helps build grammatically accurate structure step by step.

This Rosetta Stone solution was piloted in two high schools beginning in October 2012. These schools were selected due to their Title I, low-performing status. There is also a high population of new and refugee students in these schools, whom Austria and her team believed were critical to reach in order to help develop English skills.

The Rosetta Stone language program was then offered to 12 high schools, two middle schools and two elementary schools for the 2013-14 school year; students used Rosetta Stone in their after-school program to accelerate their English mastery. After going through a series of lessons, each unit concluded with a Milestone activity, in which the student is engaged in a first-person conversation with native English speakers using the language learned in the unit.

During the pilot and beyond, PGCPS had a dedicated success team member from Rosetta Stone to assist with implementation and to facilitate understanding of the program’s features. The team would connect with the ESOL department twice per quarter to discuss overall benchmark progress, and Rosetta Stone provided monthly usage reports for the PGCPS team to review.

“Not only would Rosetta Stone send an Excel report with extensive data, but they would break down that data, explain what the numbers meant, and highlight areas of special interest,” says Austria.

For 2014, that data included more than 2,000 hours of districtwide usage by April, and an average of just under two hours of usage per month, per student.

Overall, implementing Rosetta Stone’s language learning program has been a positive experience for PGCPS, says Austria. “We are so happy with how our students are progressing and happy to see the number of users growing.”

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