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.
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.
Guideline: The No Child Left Behind Act requires two annual assessments for English language learner (ELL) students: a statewide academic assessment and an assessment of English language proficiency. Program administrators and ELL staff members should be aware of these requirements as the results provide a measure of their effectiveness and can impact whether their school achieves adequate yearly progress.
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.
Standards for Test Administration
This ETS 2014 resource contains excerpts from the Code of Fair Testing Practices in Education which lists obligations for informing test takers and/or their parents and guardians about the assessment to be given and the use of the data gathered from the assessment process.
Source: Excerpts from the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing prepared by the Committee to Develop Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing of the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education, 1985. The purpose of the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing is provide criteria for the evaluation of tests, testing practices, and the effects of test use. Part VI contain standards regarding test administration, scoring, and reporting, as well as standards for the protection of test takers' rights. This excerpt is taken from Chapter 15, Test Administration, Scoring, and Reporting.
In typical applications, test administrators should follow carefully the standardized procedures for administration and scoring specified by the test publisher. Specifications regarding instructions to test takers, time limits, the form of item presentation or response, and test materials or equipment should be strictly observed. Exemptions should be made only on the basis of carefully considered professional judgment, primarily in clinical applications.
The testing environment should be one of reasonable comfort and with minimal distractions. Testing material should be readable and understandable. In computerized testing, items displayed on a screen should be legible and free from glare, and the terminal should be properly positioned.
Testing sessions should be monitored where appropriate both to assist the test taker when a need arises and to maintain proper administrative procedures. Among the conditions that should be avoided in testing situations are:
In the context of computer-administered tests, the novelty of the presentation may have an unknown effort on the test administration.
Originally produced by the Evaluation Assistance Center-West, the Standards for Testing Bilingual Persons is a useful resource to share with the school staff members responsible for testing ELL students. Refer to the ERIC/CUE Digest No. 65.
Some states have policies that allow ELL students to be exempt from participating in state-mandated achievement tests. The material offered defines each state's policy on this subject.
Leveling the Playing Field for English Language Learners: Increasing Participation in State and Local Assessments through Accommodations
This resource from the former Region III Comprehensive Center provides practical guidance for using test preparation strategies with English language learner students as a form of accommodation for standardized tests.
ERIC Digest No.65: Assessing Bilingual Students for Placement and Instruction
This ERIC/CUE Digest No. 65 provides instructions for assessing bilingual students for placement. Standardized achievement and aptitude tests may be of very limited value in making placement or instructional decisions about bilingual students. The practice of categorizing standardized test scores by ethnic groups obscures the difficulties of administering and interpreting tests taken by bilinguals. Individuals who are bilingual have two language systems that overlap and are distinct; both are relied upon in a variety of ways, depending on the linguistic and communicative demands of everyday settings.
This Office for Civil Rights resource guide contains a chapter on test measurement principles as they relate to English language learners.
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: