The English Language Learner KnowledgeBase for Administrators

The English Language Learner (ELL) KnowledgeBase for Administrators is an online resource supporting the administration of programs for ELL students. It offers resources related to Office for Civil Rights requirements and the No Child Left Behind Act.

Element 1: Understand the Law

Purpose: School districts are required to take affirmative steps to address the language development of national origin-minority students (English language learners - ELLs) where the inability to speak and understand the English language prevents the students from effective participation in the district's programs. Element 1 addresses the legal requirements related to ELL students. Besides school leaders and teaching staff, these requirements must be understood by the entire school community.

Activity 1: Become Familiar with the Legal Aspects and Precedents

Activity 2: Review the No Child Left Behind Elementary and Second Education Act (ESEA) Law

Activity 3: Communicate Expectations and Requirements

Element 2: Develop the English Language Learner Program

Purpose: School districts have broad discretion in selecting appropriate language programs, but should consider three general areas when making a decision.

  • Is there a need to provide alternative language services?
  • Will the alternative language program effectively meet the educational needs of English language learner students?
  • Is the program approach backed by scientifically-based research?

The program chosen should be considered sound by experts in the field. If a district is using a different approach, it must show that it is considered a legitimate experimental strategy.

Activity 1: Investigate Different Approaches for Alternative Language Program

Activity 2: Secure Human and Financing Resources

Element 3: Communicate with and Involve Parents

Purpose: Under Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) requirements, school districts have obligations to communicate with and involve parents in their child’s education. Under Title III, schools "receiving such funds are to assure timely and effective notification to parents English language learner students and extend a means for them to be involved with their child's education." Similarly, the OCR requirements specify school districts communicate in a way that assures meaningful access for English language learner (ELL)students and their parents.

To fulfill these responsibilities, school districts should develop procedures for providing parents of ELL students with the same information provided to the parents of their English language peers in a language appropriate manner. As a result of these obligations, school districts must develop effective ways for involving parents of their ELL students in their child's education.

Activity 1: Communicate with Parents Using Language Appropriate Methods

Activity 2: Develop and Implement Parent Involvement Program

Element 4: Identify and Assess Students

Purpose: School districts are to deliver English language instruction programs to English language learning children to help them develop their English proficiency and meet the same state academic content and student achievement standards all students are expected to meet. In doing so, districts have broad discretion in selecting appropriate language programs, but should consider the following when developing their program.

  • Is there a need to provide alternative language services?
  • Will the English language program effectively meet the educational needs of ELL students?
  • Are the language instruction curricula that will be used to teach limited English proficient children tied to scientifically based research and demonstrated to be effective?
  • How will the teachers providing language services be certified as English language proficient?
  • How will parents be notified why their child is being placed in the program and of their right to have their child removed from the program?

Activity 1: Ensure English Language Program Coordination with Other Programs

Activity 2: Conduct Program Evaluation

Element 5: Exit Students and Monitor Academic Progress

Purpose: The school district should establish criteria to determine when ELL students qualify for exiting the English language learner program. The school district should be able to demonstrate that its exit criteria is based on objective standards that ensure ELL students will be able to participate meaningfully and successfully in the district's regular education program.

Activity 1: Develop Appropriate Exit Policies and Procedures to Monitor ELL Student Academic Achievement

Element 6: Provide Professional Learning

Purpose: In fulfilling the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act and the Office for Civil Rights, staff development must occur to ensure ELL students progress academically and be afforded equal educational opportunity. This includes professional learning in the following areas:

  • processes/policies for the identification and exit of ELL students for intake staff members and classroom teachers,
  • implementation of the program model for ELL program staff members,
  • strategies for working with ELL students for content teachers, and
  • assessment process for translators and staff members who will assist in Special Education.

Activity 1: Develop School Professional Learning Plan

Activity 2: Implement Professional Learning Plan

Activity 3: Monitor and Evaluate Professional Learning Activities