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: School documents distributed to parents of English language learner (ELL) students should be translated into an appropriate home language. The translation must be accurate and timely so parents receive the same information as parents of non-ELL students.
This document offers a checklist of the type of documents that should be translated in the languages of the predominant foreign speaking student populations.
As noted at its website, "Casa Notes is designed to allow teachers to make and customize typical notes that are sent home to parents or given to the students. This is done by using templates and allowing the teachers to customize some of the content, choose a color scheme, and add a graphic. The notes can then be printed on a black-and-white or color printer to be used. Teachers can select whether the notes should be in English or in Spanish."
This resource includes several glossaries of special education terminology which provide the respective English terminology in Hmong, Spanish, and Somali.
This form is designed to help school personnel maintain a list of translators and interpreters available from outside sources such as other districts, community organizations, and government agencies.
Alternate format: PDF
Under the No Child Left Behind Act, districts using Title III funds must provide information to parents about their child's participation in a language instruction educational program. This table contains links to each state's Title III notification information.
This resource provides links to websites with special education related documents translated into various foreign languages.
Example of a Parent's Guide
Developing a guide for parents of students of other cultures is a positive way of explaining the school district's basic policies and describing the ELL program. This sample guide is accessible through the website of Montgomery County Public Schools in Montgomery, Maryland. Many schools have their own Parent's Guide.
Free and Reduced School Meals Applications and Information Translations
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service website provides free and reduced school meal applications and related information in nineteen languages.
Quality Indicators for Translation and Interpretation in Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve Educational Services - Guidelines and Resources for Educators
This California Department of Education document was developed to assist educators who might serve as translators and interpreters or who work in multilingual educational settings. Its purpose is to improve the quality of translations of parental notifications and other documents into languages other than English and to ensure more appropriate and effective interpreting practices. Though intended for California educators, educators in other states may find the content useful.
This resource provides a collection of documents about different aspects of working with translators and interpreters.
Writing effectively for an audience with a wide variety of backgrounds is difficult. This page provides several resources to help writers craft their message to reach the widest possible audience.
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: