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.
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.
Guideline: "Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act requires each state educational agency to submit a plan to the Secretary of Education describing how the agency will establish standards and objectives for raising the level of English proficiency that are derived from the four recognized domains of language-listening, speaking, reading, and writing-and comprehension. Within that plan English language proficiency standards are meant to guide the design and administration of local language education programs." Teachers instructing English language learners need to be aware of the applicable English language proficiency standards.
Limited English Proficient (LEP) Partnership Initiative
"The LEP Partnership is a U.S. Department of Education initiative to improve assessments of English language proficiency, reading, and mathematics for LEP students." This resource offers information related to that initiative.
ESSA requires each state to have in place ELPS. The standards describe the proficiency level descriptors and student expectations for ELLs. School districts are required to implement ELPS as an integral part of each subject in the required curriculum. States not part of any consortia, have developed their own ELPS aligned to their learning standards
PreK-12 English Language Proficiency Standards
The Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) standards publication presents five language proficiency standards. They include social and academic uses of the language students must acquire for success in and beyond the classroom.
WIDA Consortium's English Language Proficiency Standards
The World Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) Consortium's English language proficiency standards are designed as a curriculum planning and assessment preparation tool. They help educators determine children's English language proficiency levels and how to appropriately challenge them in reaching higher levels.
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: