English Learners (ELs)

Changing Terminology: From “English Language Learners” to “English Learners”

by Jennifer Alicandri

When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed on December 10, 2015, reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (which was amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001), it changed the terminology: our students are now called English Learners (ELs), no longer ELL, LEP, or ESL. There are many other changes to, or extensions of, NCLB that will impact English learners and the districts serving them. Some (but not all) of these changes are listed below.

  • A new data reporting requirement for long-term ELs. This change will require districts to report the number and percentage of ELs served by Title III who have not attained ELP within 5 years of initial classification.
  • Academic achievement measures of ELs who have exited EL status is required for four years, doubling NCLB’s requirement.
  • Progress measures towards achieving ELP will be disaggregated for ELs with disabilities (though there is no requirement to disaggregate measures of EL’s attainment of ELP by ELs with disabilities).
  • Required activities under ESSA include professional development, direct services to students for the improvement of academic achievement and English language development, and providing parent, family, and community engagement activities.
  • States will be required to establish and implement standardized statewide entrance/exit procedures for EL programs. All students who may be English learners must be assessed within 30 days of enrollment.
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