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  • Rev 12/8/14

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    Regional School District #14

    English Language Learners (ELL) Handbook

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    Table of Contents

    Introduction p. 3

    Legal requirements p. 5

    Program models and service delivery for ELLs p. 8 Communication chain necessary to assure all requirements are met p. 9 English Language Acquisition Expectations p. 12 Suggestions and Resources p. 14

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    Regional School District 14 fits the definition of a “low incidence” district for English Language Learners.

    This means that:

     Typically less than 20 students who are identified as ELL in a single grade, school, or the district

    for the purposes of disaggregating a sub-group in state reporting

     Insufficient number of students to require a bi-lingual program (less than 20 students who speak

    the same native language)

     ELL identified students come from a variety of native language backgrounds and are spread

    across age and grade level groups

     The district does not employ dedicated staff with TESOL/ESOL certification to design and deliver

    instruction specifically designed for ELL students (staffing)

     The district does not have sufficient enrollment to schedule ELL to a specific ESL class


    In spite of the low numbers and variable enrollment of students across grades and levels as well as

    mobility issues, the district is obligated by state and federal laws to provide services to give students,

    regardless of the English language proficiency, access to the district’s educational program. This

    handbook will identify a process to assure that the district meets both its legal obligations and addresses

    the needs of the students. It will also provide suggestions for resources that can be used by general

    education teachers and student support specialists to provide appropriate educational services for these


    Variables Worth Considering Our English Language Learners arrive in our schools at various ages with varying educational backgrounds, some with limited or no prior formal schooling. Many of our middle school and high school students have missed 2 or more years of school since age 6. Many of our students have limited skills in their native language. Other students arrive with well-developed language and academic abilities. These variations in academic experiences result in different lengths of time needed for students to reach academic success. Key factors influencing the length of time needed for our students to learn English include the following: • Quality of previous education • Prior English learning experiences • Literacy of the family • Socioeconomic status • Mobility • Family displacement • Cultural isolation • Exposure to social unrest or war • Cultural differences between educational systems

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    The initial goal is to support students as they acquire functional, communicative English language skills.

    As students gain in confidence and proficiency, the focus shifts to more complex academic language

    skills. Students may continue to need support in their academics even after they possess the ability to

    communicate with peers and staff fluently in English. Teachers need to pay special attention to:

     Filling in gaps in background knowledge

     Helping students to navigate the nuances of English grammar, slang, and multiple meanings of


     Differentiating between difficulties in comprehension caused by language versus learning


     Providing students with strategies to tackle academic vocabulary necessary to master course


     Recognizing and valuing the experiences and knowledge that students bring to the school


    Even after the time that students can be formally dismissed from EL status, many may continue to

    require supports in the areas noted above, especially as the rigor of content increases and students are

    expected to work more independently. School personal, though the SCT/Intervention process, should

    consider the available instructional support and staff whose skill set closely aligns with student needs in

    grammar, comprehension and vocabulary development. This may continue to be the Literacy Specialist

    but may include the classroom teacher(s), special education resource teacher, literacy tutor, para or

    other staff who can respond to the student’s need.

    In some cases, students who are EL may also have learning disabilities that will impact the design of

    their instructional program. Planning and Placement Teams are encouraged to include the Literacy

    Specialist in the consideration and design of the IEP since the student is likely to continue to need

    language proficiency support in grammar, comprehension and vocabulary in addition to interventions

    specific to the learning disability. See the CAPELL Guide: CAPELL ELLs and Special Education

    Resource Handbook (2011)

    Educators and parents should be reminded that a student does not need to have an EL identification in

    order to receive appropriate academic supports. Just like other students who may be struggling, the

    student may be referred to SCT/Intervention to identify which, if any, Tier 1, 2 or 3 supports will benefit

    student learning.

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    Legal Requirements

    RSD 14 is bound by a number of specific legal requirements in reference to providing educational

    services for ELLs.

    Overall Legal Responsibility (by ESEA, NCLB, Title III) Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as reauthorized in 2001 (No Child Left Behind), provides for language instruction for Limited English Proficient (LEP) and immigrant students. Federal monies are provided to states (and, in turn, local education agencies or LEAs) for the education of these students. States and districts that accept this federal financial assistance must

     identify, report, and annually assess their LEP students, also called English Language Learners (ELLs) and English Learners

     demonstrate that ELL students o 1) make progress in attaining English language proficiency (from year to year,

    culminating in meeting exit standards) o 2) attain English language proficiency (as measured by scoring a Level 4 or 5 on the LAS

    Links assessment) o 3) are proficient in state academic achievement standards in math, reading or language

    arts, and science (CMT/CAPT; SBAC?) (as measured by attaining the grade level benchmark on DRA2 for Grades K-2 or by scoring a 2 or better on CMT or CAPT Math, Reading and Writing)

    These three accountability measures are referred to as the Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAOs) (Title III, Section 3122) and are calculated and reported by states and districts to the federal government and to parents and families at the local level (Section 3302b). Similar to the adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirements under Title the AMAO requirements under Title III also have accountability sanctions for states and districts. Instruction According to the implications of Section 10-17e-j and the mandate stated in Section 10-4a of the Connecticut General Statutes, each child shall have “equal opportunity to receive a suitable program of educational experiences.” The Connecticut State Board of Education’s “Position Statement on the Education of Students Who Are English Language Learners” (adopted in July 2010) affirms this fact in its first paragraph: “Our state, districts and schools are mandated by the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Connecticut Bilingual Statute to ensure that ELLs receive specialized services to meet their language and academic needs.” Identification of ELL students Step I: Preliminary Assessment of Dominant Language

    On enrollment, all parents/guardians should be asked the following: 1. What language did your child first learn to speak?

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    2. What is the primary language spoken (by the adults) in the home? 3. What is the primary language spoken by your child in the home?

    If the answer to ANY of these questions is other than “English,” the student should be assessed to determine language proficiency level using the LAS Links Placement Test. This short version measures Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing at grade appropriate bands. Students who score below Level 5 for their grade band should be referred to SCT/Intervention team to consider necessary supports. Step II: Final Determination of Dominant Language

    Conduct a grade-appropriate oral interview and/or observations of the student and/or administering a language proficiency test. The student’s dominant language is then entered into the district and state student information systems.

    Step III: Determination of English Language Proficiency

    1) an interview to determine proficiency 2) a standardized English language proficiency test 3)