A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

School Reform and Student Diversity - September 1995


1. Student Designations

LM (language minority): Defined in the 1990 U.S. Census as households in which one or more people speak languages other than English. More than one in five school-age children and youth in the U.S. live in language minority households.

LEP (limited English proficient): A subset of LM--those from language minority households who are not proficient in English. One estimate of the number of LEP students is drawn from Census questions that ask about individual's home language use and spoken English proficiency. Federal programs and school systems may also identify as LEP students those who have difficulty not only in speaking English, but also in reading, writing, or understanding it. The proportion of LM students who are LEP is estimated by various sources as one-fourth,1 one-third,2 or as large as one-half to three-fourths.3

NEP (non-English proficient): Students who come to school with no or minimal English proficiency.

FEP (fluent English proficient): Formerly LEP students who have achieved a sufficient level of English proficiency.

Newcomer: Students who have recently immigrated; these students tend to have no fluency in English and varied educational backgrounds.

EO (English-only): Monolingual, English-speaking students.

2. Program Models for Language Minority Students4

ESL (English as a Second Language)

Teaches English to LEP students; may be used with students with different native languages in the same class. ESL teachers have training in principles of language acquisition and in language teaching methods, but are not fluent in the home languages of their students.

ESL Pull-out: Pulls (elementary school) students out of the mainstream class for a portion of the day to receive ESL instruction.

ESL Class Period: Provides a regular class period for (middle school) students devoted to ESL instruction.

Bilingual Programs

Uses the students' native language, in addition to English, for instruction. Students are grouped according to their home language, and teachers are proficient in both English and the students' language.

Early-exit Bilingual Programs: Provide initial instruction in the students' home language, with rapid transition into all-English instruction. Students are mainstreamed into English-only classes by the end of first or second grade.

Late-exit Bilingual Programs: Use the students' home language more and longer than early-exit programs. Late-exit programs may use home language instruction 40 percent or more of the time, throughout the elementary school years, and even for students who have been reclassified as fluent English proficient.

Two-way (or Developmental) Bilingual Programs: Use English and another language to provide instruction to classes composed of approximately half language minority students from a single language background and half language majority (English-speaking) students. Both groups of students develop their native language skills while acquiring proficiency in a second language.


Some neither use the students' home language nor direct ESL instruction. Instruction is, however, adapted to meet the needs of students who are not proficient in English.

Sheltered English or Content-based Programs: Use English adapted to the students' level of comprehension, along with gestures and visual aids, to provide content area instruction. This approach is often used for a class of students from varied native language backgrounds.

Structured Immersion Programs: Use English as a medium of instruction for content areas, as in Sheltered English programs. Structured immersion teachers have a bilingual education or ESL credential and understand the students' first language.

3. Pedagogical Terms

Active Learning: This term is used to describe project-based learning in which active student participation in the learning process is promoted; the teacher acts as a facilitator of the student learning experience rather than a one-way provider of information.

Alternative/Authentic Assessment: An assessment system that measures student performance in a way that requires students to demonstrate their understanding.

Cooperative Learning: This term is used to described structured group work in which students work together and direct their own learning; the teacher acts as a facilitator of learning. Students are frequently assigned roles within their group (i.e., chairperson, recorder, manager, reporter, organizer).

Constructivist Learning: Students construct meaning using multiple resources and data sources.

Thematic Instruction/Integrated Curriculum: This term refers to the integration of traditional content areas around instructional themes; the purpose is to present the content area curriculum to students in more meaningful ways.

Whole Language: The use of language in ways that reflect real-world purposes and function authentically related to students' life experiences. Strategies rely on using language rather than learning about language.

4. Assessment-related Acronyms

ASAT (Abbreviated Stanford Achievement Test): A norm-referenced test used by many districts to assess student achievement.

CLAS (California Learning Assessment System): California’s state-mandated, performance-based academic assessment system. (Canceled at the time of this writing.)

CTBS (Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills): A norm-referenced test used by many districts to assess student achievement.

IGAP (Illinois Goals Assessment Program): Illinois’ state-mandated academic assessment system; serves as the basis for the state’s school accountability system.

IPT (IDEA Oral Language Proficiency Test): The IDEA test is part of a curriculum package that is used in some bilingual programs. The test is appropriate for children in grades K through 6; it contains stimulus pictures which elicit oral language production. Additionally, the child is asked simple questions, required to repeat sentences, provide information about common aspects of his or her environment, recall and retell parts of a story, and discriminate paired phonemes. It provides six levels of proficiency from no English language ability to an ability level that would correspond with a fluent English speaker.

ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills): A norm-referenced test used by many districts to assess student achievement.

LAS (Language Assessment Survey): This test is divided into two forms, LAS I for grades K through 5, and LAS II for grades 6 through 12. They also assess both English and Spanish proficiency. The test is based on five subtests: oral production, phoneme discrimination and production, vocabulary, and oral comprehension. The combined subtests yield a composite score which is used to classify a children into one of five categories: Fluent, Near Fluent, Limited, Partially Deficient, or non-English.

MEAP (Massachusetts Educational Assessment Program): Massachusetts’ state-mandated academic assessment system. (Under revision at the time of this writing.)

TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills): Texas' state-mandated assessment system; serves as the basis for the state’s school accountability system.

1 GAO/HEHS, Limited English Proficiency: A Growing and Costly Educational Challenge Facing Many School Districts (Washington, DC: United States General Accounting Office, January 1994).

2 Stanford Working Group on Federal Education Programs for Limited-English Proficient Students, A Blueprint for the Second Generation, Stanford Working Group (Stanford, CA, June 1993).

3 Numbers and Needs, March 1993, Vol. 3, No. 2.

4 Jeanne Rennie, "ESL and Bilingual Program Models," ERIC Digest, ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics/Center for Applied Linguistics (Washington, DC, September 1993).


[Table 16 Case Study Research Area #5: Impact of the Reform at the Middle Grades] [Table of Contents] [Selected References]