According to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), school districts across the country have a legal obligation to provide meaningful and equitable support for their English learner (EL) populations. This federal mandate is passed down to the departments of education of each state.
For English learner department administrators and educators, it's critical to have a solid plan in place to meet federal and state requirements for English language development. In this blog, we'll cover what these instructional requirements are, and also offer suggestions on what you can do to help ensure that your district remains compliant.
While each state has its own specific process for monitoring English learner program compliance, all districts across the country must follow the general set of obligations set forth by the U.S. ED.
Let’s use California as an example. Each year, over a hundred school districts are selected to undergo Federal Program Monitoring (FPM) of their categorical programs. A reviewer from the California Department of Education checks to see if the district is meeting the administration, funding, accountability, and educational requirements for English learners under federal and state laws. There is also a review of whether the district is making appropriate use of the Title III funding received.
One major review area is how teaching and learning are implemented for English learner students.
Teaching and Learning Requirements for English Learners
To be compliant with instructional requirements for English language learners, the district must meet with evidence these general guidelines:
Instructional Time Set Aside for Designated ELD.
There must be time set aside during the school day for designated ELD. This means that designated ELD instruction is on the class schedule as its own period or part of a block schedule. An afterschool or summer program cannot be considered designated ELD. Note that Designated ELD differs from integrated ELD whereby English language skills are embedded into content courses, such as ELA, Math, or other subjects.
Instructional Resources and Materials Need to be Standards-Based.
The curriculum and instructional materials must follow state English language development standards. Therefore, choose support resources that are clearly aligned with state ELD standards (this can be evidenced by the scope and sequence of the materials).
ELD Curriculum Needs to be Leveled.
In addition, there should be differentiated instruction for English learners. For example, Level 1 ELs will required different support and materials than level 2s and 3s.
What Can Districts Do to Be Compliant?
Implementing focused language instructional time within your students’ already busy schedules is not easy. But there are very good reasons why this protected class time is necessary. A time for designated ELD instruction provides English learners with the language skills needed to be successful in other content area classes, and is instrumental to reclassification in a timely manner.
Language Tree Online can help by providing a structured, standards-based ELD curriculum that is ideal for designated English language development instruction. Our standards-based assessments help educators flush out skill gaps so that the appropriate lessons can be delivered to each individual student. Finally, we help EL educators make the most of the limited time they have with their EL students by providing the lessons, assignments and intervention resources they need — all in one place.