The English Language Learner (ELL) KnowledgeBase 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 No Child Left Behind Act requirements.
This KnowledgeBase is currently being updated to reflect recent changes under federal law. The current version is provided for your reference as much of the information may still be relevant.
Guideline: Leaders at the district and/or school level should become familiar with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) guidance addressing the provision of equal educational opportunities for all students. Knowledge of this guidance assists in developing policies and programs that meet legal standards.
This reference guide developed by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) offers practical guidance for district staff members related to harassment issues. District staff members responsible for harassment issues may find the content useful in developing appropriate policies and procedures.
Assuring meaningful access for national-origin language-minority parents and ELL students was the crux of the compliance agreement between the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) and the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Though the agreement is specific to the TUSD, it illustrates OCR's areas of concern related to meaningful access. This document offers resources to assist school districts understand the federal requirements and tools to assess their efforts. A copy of the Tucson agreement letter is provided.
There are two key guiding memoranda issued by the Office for Civil Rights that address the issue of equal educational opportunity for children with limited English proficiency. Links to the May 25, 1970, and September 27, 1991, memoranda are provided.
This pamphlet, prepared by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, provides a summary of the legal basis for providing equal educational opportunity to students with limited English proficiency. It is a useful tool for explaining the legal requirements to parents, board of education members, district and building level staff, and community leaders. The pamphlet is available in English and Spanish versions.
Alternate Formats: Spanish Downloadable PDFs: English and Spanish
This Office for Civil Rights document provides guidance on establishing Programs for English Language Learners. The document provides an overview of the guiding legal principles that serve as the basis for compliance assessment with the applicable laws, regulations, and case law.
Purpose: Districts are required to take affirmative steps to address the language development of English language learners (ELLs) where the inability to speak and understand the English language prevents the students from effective participation in the district's regular education program. Element 1 addresses the legal requirements related to ELL students. Besides school leaders and staff members, these requirements must be understood by the entire school community.
Purpose: School districts have broad discretion in selecting appropriate language programs, but they should consider three general questions when making a decision.
The program chosen should be considered sound by experts in the field. If a district is using a different approach, it must show it is considered a legitimate experimental strategy.
Purpose: School districts have multiple obligations under Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act and Office of Civil Rights (OCR) requirements. Under Title III, schools receiving such funds are to ensure timely and effective notification to parents of ELL students and extend a means for them to be involved with their child's education. The OCR requirements specify districts do so in a way that ensures meaningful access to ELL students and their parents. Accordingly, schools must develop effective methods of involving parents of ELL students in their child's education. In fulfilling these responsibilities, districts should develop procedures for providing the parents of ELL students with the same information provided to the parents of their non-ELL peers in a language-appropriate manner.
Purpose: A district should have procedures in place for identifying English language learner (ELL) students and assessing their English proficiency. Such procedures should involve parents in making the final determination of whether their child is placed in the district's ELL program. Parents deciding not to have their child or children participate must sign a participation waiver.
Purpose: As noted at the National Clearinghouse for English Language Aquisition (NCELA), "School districts are to provide alternative language instruction programs to children with limited English proficiency to help them develop their English language skills and meet the same state academic content and student achievement standards all students are expected to meet.
In doing so, school districts have broad discretion in selecting appropriate language programs, but should consider the following when developing their program.
Purpose: A district should establish criteria to determine when English language learner (ELL) students qualify for exiting from the program. The exit criteria should be based on objective standards that ensure ELL students will be able to participate meaningfully and successfully in the district's regular education program.
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: