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: A district's policies for identifying and assessing English language learner (ELL) students must include identifying all students who have a primary home language other than English (PHLOTE). Though the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) does not mandate any specific method, the identification process can include home language surveys, student enrollment data, or personal interviews. From this student population, ELL students will ultimately be identified through an assessment process. The identified PHLOTE students may or may not be ELL students.
When a New Language Minority Student Comes to Your School
This link to the Bismarck (North Dakota) Public Schools website explains what to do when a language minority student first arrives. Though the information is specific to Bismarck Public Schools the content is helpful to any school when a language minority student first arrives.
This handout, in both English and Spanish, from the National Coalition of Advocates for Students describes the requirements placed upon schools as a result of the Plyler v. Doe decision.
This table contains links to each state's requirements for the identification and assessment of 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: