Legal Summary

English Learner Education (ELE) in Massachusetts Public Schools

The following are required for schools to be in compliance with state and federal law when providing Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) instruction to English Language Learners (ELLs.) This document does not address “ two-way bilingual” programs or bilingual education for students with IEPs. ELE programming is also mandated by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Lau v Nichols 1974 and NCLB Act of 2001. Information below is taken from the following Massachusetts DOE documents:

1. DOE Coordinated Program Review Procedures : English Learner Education (ELE) in Public Schools M.G.L.Chapter 71A,“ ELE Program Review Criteria and Implementation Guidance” 2008-2009.

The district should:

1. Maintain roster of LEP (Limited English Proficient) students and a list of formerly LEP (FLEP) students at each school, as indicated on October and subsequent SIMS data collection. Reclassify by coding them : DOE25 00 .

A student is not redesignated FLEP until he/she is deemed English proficient and:

a. can participate in all aspects of the district’s general education program without use of adapted or simplified materials and

b. performs at “ proficient” levels on state-mandated MEPA assessments; MCAS tests are not to be used to make a determination of English language proficiency.

There is no cap or limit to time spent in a language support program

2. Administer Access for ELL's Summative Assessment by qualified staff.

3. Make accommodations for LEP and FLEP students participating in MCAS testing.

4. Screen all potential LEP students using a Home Language Survey at registration. Any student who lists a first language not English must be assessed by trained professional staff for English proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening. Students will then be recommended for the appropriate ELE services. Home language surveys should be translated into other major languages of the district.

5. Provide written information about ELE programming to parents/guardians in a language they understand, including the right to waive participation in an ELE program.(See ELE10 for what is legally required in parent notice for Title III districts.)

6. Place LEP students in SEI classrooms either (1) ESL/ELD classrooms or (2) sheltered content classrooms in which materials and instruction are in English but “ with the curriculum and presentation designed for students who are learning the language. Teachers may use an ELL’s native language for clarification purposes. Districts may also modify general education classes …so that the instruction in those classes provide sheltered English instruction to LEP students.” (GLc71A 2,4,7: Title VI)

7. “If the classroom teacher does not speak the student’s native language, it is recommended that another teacher or paraprofessional who does speak the native language be available for clarification as needed.” (ELE 5 Implementation Guidance)

8. Q&A #15: How should districts with low-incidence populations of ELLs comply with GL.c71A?

“ Establish separate sheltered English immersion classrooms; and/or modify general classrooms so that the activities and instruction in those classrooms provide sheltered instruction. This may involve some or all of the following:

  • Ongoing professional development for the general classroom teacher, and/or

  • The presence of an ESL/ELL teacher working with the classroom teacher for all or part of each day, and/or

  • Tutors or paraprofessionals who are proficient in the English learner’s primary language(s) working in the classroom for all or part of each day.”

9. Provide content instruction based on Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks

10. Provide English language development instruction based on World-class Instructional Design and Assessment English Language Development (WIDA ELD).

11. Develop a mechanism for including parents or guardians of LEP students in matters pertaining to their children’s education ( PAC, membership on school council, multiple opportunities for parent-teacher communication.)

12. Notify parents/guardians annually of student’s placement , program and right to a waiver in a letter written in English and in the primary/home language. (See ELE10)

13. Provide parents /guardians of LEP students, report cards and progress reports that shall, “ to the maximum extent possible” be written in a language understandable to the parent/guardian.” (NCLB, Title III, MGLc71A)

 14. Not segregate LEP students from their English speaking peers except where programmatically necessary to implement an ELE program. Only group LEP students of different ages together in instructional settings if their levels of English proficiency are similar.

 15. Provide equal access to academic programs and services.

 16. Provide equal access to nonacademic and extracurricular programs.

 17. Provide information about school activities, responsibilities and academic standards in a language/ mode of communication that they understand .

 18. Ensure that LEP students have the opportunity to receive support services, such as guidance and counseling, in a language that the student understands.

 19. Involve staff knowledgeable about second language acquisition in the IEP development process for LEP students considered for special education. (ELE 11)

 20. Actively monitor students who have exited an ELE program for two years and provide language support programs for those exited students as needed to ensure a successful transition. Document monitoring and English support for exited ELLs. If a student is not transitioning successfully into the general education program, a school-based team who knows the student may redesignate the student as LEP.

 21. Ascertain that teachers and educational staff of ELLs hold appropriate licenses.

 22. Conduct periodic evaluations of the effectiveness of its ELE program.

Recommended periods of Instruction for ELLs based on ACCESS for ELLs results  

 English Proficiency Level - Beginning and Early Intermediate:

  • 2.5 hours per day English Language Development (ELD) by ESL/ ELL licensedteacher

  • Content instruction by teacher qualified to teach LEP students

  • Specials/electives the same as all students at grade level

 English Proficiency Level – Intermediate

  • 1-2 hours a day ELD by ESL/ELL licensed teacher

  • 1-2 hours a day ELA or reading instruction by teacher qualified to teach LEP students

  • Content instruction by teacher qualified to teach LEP

  • Specials/electives the same as all students at grade level

 English Proficiency Level – Transitioning

  • ELA and content instruction by a teacher qualified to teach LEP students

  • Provide additional opportunities for small group instruction and learning during the school day, after school and during the summer

  • Design and provide additional learning support and opportunities


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