Laws & Guidance ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION
A Blueprint for Reform
The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
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Meeting the Needs of English Learners and Other Diverse Learners

America's schools are responsible for meeting the educational needs of an increasingly diverse student population, and ESEA programs must provide a wide range of resources and support to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed in college and in a career. ESEA includes programs that help schools meet the special educational needs of children working to learn the English language, students with disabilities, Native American students, homeless students, the children of migrant workers, and neglected or delinquent students. In addition, the federal government has a responsibility to provide assistance to certain high-need regions and areas, including rural districts and districts that are affected by federal property and activities.

In each of these areas, the Administration's ESEA reauthorization proposal will continue and strengthen the federal commitment to serving all students, and improve each program to ensure that funds are used more effectively to meet the needs of the students they serve.

A Continued Commitment

  • Improving programs for English Learners and encouraging innovative programs and practices to support English Learners' success and build the knowledge base about what works.
  • Maintaining and strengthening formula grant programs for Native American students, homeless students, migrant students, and neglected or delinquent students; as well as for districts that are in rural areas or that are affected by federal property and activities.
  • Meeting the needs of students with disabilities throughout ESEA and through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Students with Disabilities

While the primary funding for programs specifically focused on supporting students with disabilities is through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, our ESEA reauthorization proposal will increase support for the inclusion and improved outcomes of students with disabilities. Our proposal will help ensure that teachers and leaders are better prepared to meet the needs of diverse learners, that assessments more accurately and appropriately measure the performance of students with disabilities, and that more districts and schools implement high-quality, state- and locally-determined curricula and instructional supports that incorporate the principles of universal design for learning to meet all students' needs.

English Learner Education

Our proposal will continue to provide significant formula grants to help states and school districts implement high-quality language instruction educational programs to improve the education of English Learners. Grantees may provide dual-language programs, transitional bilingual education, sheltered English immersion, newcomer programs for late-entrant English Learners, or other language instruction educational programs. Grantees may also provide effective professional development for all teachers of English Learners, including teachers of academic content areas, that is responsive to demonstrated needs identified by evaluations. To ensure that formula grant assistance in these areas supports the conditions needed to foster English Learners' success, we will require states to:

  • Establish new criteria to ensure consistent statewide identification of students as English Learners, and to determine eligibility, placement, and duration of programs and services, based on the state's valid and reliable English language proficiency assessment.

  • Implement a system to evaluate the effectiveness of language instruction educational programs, and to provide information on the achievement of subgroups of English Learners, to drive better decisions by school districts for program improvement, and to support districts in selecting effective programs.

Districts that are not improving the performance of English Learners will lose flexibility around the use of funds under this program, and must work with the state to implement more effective strategies.

Our proposal will also provide new competitive grants to states, districts, and nonprofit partners to support the development of innovative programs, build the knowledge base about promising practices, and scale up effective practices to improve instruction for English Learners, including funding for graduate fellowships to support research and leadership in developing effective practices to improve English Learner outcomes, as well as state or district partnerships with colleges and universities for developing effective teachers.

In addition, under the College- and Career-Ready Students program, states will be required to adopt and implement statewide grade-by-grade English language proficiency standards that are linked to the state's college- and career-ready academic content standards.

Migrant Education

Our proposal will continue and strengthen formula grants to states, districts, and other providers to meet the educational needs of migrant students. To ensure that funds are most effectively targeted to the areas in which migrant students live, we will update the current funding formula to incorporate more accurate and timely data. We will also strengthen and facilitate interstate efforts to support the educational transition of migrant students into local schools and communities.

Homeless Children and Youths Education

Our proposal will continue and strengthen formula grants to help states and districts put in place systems and services to meet the educational needs of homeless students. First, we will better target funds to serve homeless students by allocating funds on the basis of counts of homeless students rather than by shares of Title I allocations. Second, we will remove barriers to effective services for homeless children. And third, we will clarify provisions of the current statute where ambiguity resulted in delays in services for homeless children and youths. Our proposal will also increase transparency by requiring grantees to report on the academic outcomes for students served by the program.

Neglected and Delinquent Children and Youths Education

Our proposal will continue and strengthen formula grants to states to improve educational services for students in state-operated institutions and community day programs for neglected or delinquent children and youths. To better direct funds to support students in locally-operated institutions, our proposal will ask districts to reserve funds received under the College- and Career-Ready Students program to support programs conducted by locally-operated institutions.

Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education

Our proposal will continue strong support—through formula and competitive grants to states; districts; Indian tribes; Indian institutions of higher education; Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native educational and community-based organizations; and nonprofit organizations, agencies, and institutions—to help meet the unique needs of Indian students, Native Hawaiian students, and Alaska Native students.

Grantees under the Indian education program will have greater flexibility to use funds to carry out programs that meet the needs of Indian students, including Native language immersion and Native language restoration programs, and develop tribal specific standards and assessments. Our proposal will improve access to funds for Indian tribes under other ESEA programs, and recognize and strengthen the role of tribal education departments in coordinating and implementing services and programs for Indian students within their jurisdiction. To ensure that programs reflect the academic, language, and cultural needs of Indian students, we will continue to require the participation of the parents of Indian children in the design of programs. To support effective programs, we will expand eligibility to school districts and public charter schools under the Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native programs.

Rural Education

Our proposal will continue formula grants to rural districts to address the specific needs of students in rural areas, through the Small, Rural School Achievement (SRSA) and the Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) programs. In order to improve targeting of funds, we will update the method used to identify districts as rural. To allow additional districts needed flexibility, our proposal will also expand the current "REAP Flex" authority, which allows eligible small districts to use other federal education funds flexibly, to districts that are eligible to receive funds under RLIS. In addition, we will better align the accountability requirements of the College- and Career-Ready Students program with the rural education program, so that the rural education program supports school improvement efforts in persistently low-performing districts.

To help rural districts apply for competitive grants and determine effective strategies for improving student academic achievement, the Secretary may reserve funds for national activities such as technical assistance and research on innovative programs that are designed to help rural districts overcome common capacity constraints.

Impact Aid

Our reauthorization proposal will continue significant formula grant support designed to compensate districts for the expense of educating federally-connected children and for the presence in their districts of tax-exempt federal property or other property removed from the tax rolls by the federal government. Because these funds are compensatory, districts enjoy broad flexibility in the use of these funds.


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Last Modified: 05/27/2011