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Developing Programs for English Language Learners: Services

Resource Materials for Planning and Self-Assessments

Part II: Developing ELL Programs

Program of Services for ELL Students

The information discussed in this section pertains to the educational model and program of services selected by the district. Following are questions that may be useful in developing a plan that addresses in a comprehensive manner the methods to be used in providing ELL students appropriate English language development services, as well as services to enable the students to benefit from the district's academic and special programs.

  • Are the district's programs and services as described in this section consistent with the educational theory(ies) (e.g., ESL, structured immersion, transitional bilingual education, dual language, etc.) selected by the district?

  • Does the description of the program of services for ELL students reflect:

    The methods and the services the district will use to teach ELL students English language skills (i.e., speaking, understanding, reading, and writing of English)?

    The methods and the services the district will use to ensure that ELL students can meaningfully participate in the academic and special programs (e.g., history, science, social studies, music, vocational education, etc.) offered by the district? (Note: Depending upon the district's education model, English language services and subject matter services may be concurrent or sequential.)

  • Does the description of the delivery of services to ELL students reflect:

    How and where the English language development services will be delivered? (For example, are language development services delivered through a pullout program, within a self-contained program, or within the regular classroom?)

  • If ELL students are in the regular classroom for academic subjects (history, science, etc.), how will the ELL students be able to participate in these academic subjects? (For example, will the district provide training for teachers and/or provide support staff or services such as translators, so that the ELL students can effectively participate in classroom activities and comprehend the academic material being presented?)

Note: OCR recognizes that the district's program of services under its ELL plan may have the effect of separating students who are ELL from non-ELL students during at least part of the school day. However, the program design should not separate ELL students beyond the extent necessary to achieve the goals of the district's program of services. Additionally, ELL students should be provided services in comparable facilities to those in which non-ELL students receive services.

  • Are guidelines and standards included for providing ELL students each of the services in the district's ELL program?

  • Does the plan identify the person(s) responsible for providing services to ELL students?

  • Does the plan include standards and criteria for the amount and type of services to be provided? Does it include a process to decide the appropriate amount and type of services to be provided?

  • If there are any variations in the district's program of services between schools and grade levels, are the variations described?

  • Are procedures included for notification to parents of newly enrolled students, in a language that the parents understand, of the availability and type of program of services and other options for ELL students?

  • Are provisions made for language appropriate notice to the parents of ELL students regarding school activities that are communicated to other parents (e.g., student progress reports, school schedules, information provided in student handbooks, extracurricular activities, special meetings and events such as PTA meetings and fund raising events, etc.)?

  • Are the notification procedures sufficient so that the parents can make well-informed educational decisions about the participation of their children in the district's ELL program and other service options that are provided to parents?
OCR Policy

Many districts design their ELL programs to temporarily emphasize English over other subjects. While schools with such programs may discontinue special instruction in English once ELL students become English-proficient, schools retain an obligation to provide assistance necessary to remedy academic deficits that may have occurred in other subjects while the student was focusing on learning English.

OCR's "Policy Update on Schools' Obligations Toward National Origin Minority Students With Limited-English Proficiency." (1991 OCR policy memorandum)

See also Castañeda v. Pickard, 648 F. 2d 989 (5th Cir., 1981).

Last Modified: 01/16/2020