English Language Learner KnowledgeBase for Administrators & Teachers

The English Language Learner (ELL) KnowledgeBase for Administrators and Teachers is an online resource supporting both the administration, teaching and execution of programs for English learning students. It offers resources related to Office for Civil Rights (OCR) requirements and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Element 1: Understand the Law

Purpose: Demographics in public schools have been steadily changing due to the increasing enrollment of students whose first language is other than English, better identified as English language learners (ELLs). The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education and the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) share authority for enforcing the legal requirements of the Equal Education Opportunities Act (EEOA) of 1964. These departments also assist in the administration of the English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act, also known as Title III, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015.

Element 1 involves the legal requirements districts and schools have to address for the language development of students whose English language proficiency limits their ability to achieve rigorous academic standards to graduate college and career ready.

Activity 1: Become Familiar with Legal Aspects and Precedents

Activity 2: Review the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Activity 3: Understand the Role of Stakeholder Engagement in ESSA

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 ELL 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 is considered a legitimate experimental strategy.

Activity 1: Investigate Different Approaches for Alternative Language Program

Activity 2: Human, Material and Financial Resources

Additional factors related to the instructional language program relate to staffing the program, providing adequate instructional materials as well as grants available to school districts, and schools.

Element 3: Communicate with and Involve Parents

Purpose: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires districts receiving Title I subgrant funds should implement an effective means of outreach to parents of ELs. Likewise, local education agencies (LEAs) receiving a Title III formula subgrant must conduct parent, family, and community engagement activities to strengthen participation.

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.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Dear Colleagues Letter (January 7, 2015)

U.S. Department of Justice Video - Understanding and Abiding by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Activity 1: Communicate with Parents Using Language Appropriate Methods

Activity 2: Develop and Implement Parent Involvement Program

Element 5: Exit Students and Monitor Academic Progress

Purpose: State education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) must meet their obligations with ELLs specified in ESSA and the OCR at the U.S. Department of Education.

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

Activity 2: Teachers Exit Strategies

Element 6: Provide Professional Learning

Purpose: Local education agencies (LEAs) must provide adequate professional development and follow-up training to prepare ELL program teachers and administrators to implement the ELL program effectively.  

Activity 1: Develop School Professional Learning Plan

Activity 2: Implement Professional Learning Plan

Activity 3: Monitor and Evaluate Professional Learning Activities

Activity 4: Teachers Professional Learning Resources

    Element 7: Resources for ELL Teachers

    Purpose: This Element: Resources for Teachers is an online resource supporting educators responsible for implementing programs for ELL students. It offers resources related to teaching ELL students based on Office for Civil Rights and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

    Activity 1: Teacher Professional Growth

    Activity 2: Socio-Emotional Education

    Activity 3: Culturally Diverse Pedagogy

    Activity 4: Approaches to working with ELLs

    Activity 5: Evidence-Based Strategies

    Activity 6: Assessment and Evaluation

    Activity 7: Resources