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.
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.
Guideline: Before developing appropriate identification and assessment policies and procedures for English language learner students, school district staff members should be familiar with the related legal aspects and Office of Civil Rights guidance.
This document contains the identification and assessment sections from the OCR Region VII Profile, Assessment, and Resolution (PAR) Region pilot project. The brochure provides guidance on identifying and assessing ELL students.
This document offers the U.S. Department of Education's draft guidance on the assessment requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act addressing ELL students. The sections provided pertain to ELL and migrant students as well as flexibility and accountability for ELL students.
There are several federal court cases that establish the legal foundation for providing equal educational opportunity to students with limited English proficiency, Brown v. Board of Education, Lau v. Nichols, Castaneda v. Pickard, and Plyler v. Doe. A summary of each decision is offered.
Brown v. Board of Education
Lau v. Nichols
Castañeda v. Pickard
Plyler v. Doe
The legal foundation for providing equal educational opportunity to students with limited English proficiency is found in three federal laws: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Educational Opportunity Act of 1974, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A summary of each Act is provided.
Office for Civil Rights Language Minority Compliance Procedures
This link is to the Office for Civil Rights Title VI Language Minority Compliance Procedures. Such procedures are used to determine whether the recipient school district is operating a program for ELL students that meets Title VI requirements.
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 document is abstracted from a OCR resource guide. It provides information pertaining to the legal principles involved with using high stake tests as they relate to ELL students.
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: