Which program approaches does state policy authorize?

Which program approaches does state policy authorize?

November 2014


Research is mixed about what program approaches are most effective, but researchers agree that ELLs perform better academically and achieve greater language proficiency when they have some type of English language instruction.

Program approaches vary widely, but the most common types include:
  • English as a Second Language (ESL): Academic content is taught in English in mainstream classrooms, and students receive ESL instruction to develop English language skills.
  • Sheltered English/Structured English Immersion: Academic content is taught only in English and in ELL-only classrooms. Instruction is adjusted to students’ English proficiency levels.
  • Bilingual: ELLs receive academic instruction in English and a second language, eventually transitioning to English instruction only with a goal of moving to a mainstream classroom. Transitional bilingual programs complete these transitions rapidly.
  • Dual language immersion/two-way bilingual: Students are taught academic content in two languages with a goal of developing proficiency in both languages. Some programs include both ELL and English-only students.


Unless otherwise noted, all information in this resource was gathered from state statutes only and does not include policies in state-level guidance documents or arising from court orders.

Which program approaches does state policy authorize?
Federal Law The federal government does not mandate a specific method of instruction. States and school districts may select programs but must use research-based teaching methods. School districts must have flexibility to teach ELs in a manner the districts determine are most effective.
Alabama Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Alaska
Not specified in state policy
Arizona
Arizona has an English-focused approach. ELL students are placed in sheltered English immersion classrooms for up to one year and receive daily and developmentally-appropriate instruction in English language development using curriculum and materials designed for students learning English. School districts and charter schools choose one of the state board-approved English immersion models, which last one year and include a minimum of four hours per day of English language development. ELLs who are not progressing well may be provided with additional supports. 
 
Parents of an ELL may apply for a waiver for the student to attend a bilingual program only if the child has school leadership approval and is at least 10 years old or has special needs that would be better served in a bilingual setting.
Arkansas Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
California
All children are to be placed in English language classrooms. ELLs are placed in sheltered English immersion for a transition period of one year. Once ELLs have acquired a good working knowledge of English, they must be transferred to English language mainstream classrooms. 

Parents may waive the English language classroom requirement with written consent, which must be provided annually. Under the waiver, students may be transferred to classes where they are taught English and other subjects through bilingual education techniques or other ELL educational methodologies permitted by law. To apply for the waiver, parents must personally visit the school and schools must provide them with a full description of the educational materials to be used in the different educational program choices and all the educational opportunities available to the child. Waivers may be granted for:
  • Children who already possesses good English language skills, as measured by standardized tests of English vocabulary comprehension, reading, and writing, in which the child scores at or above the state average for his or her grade level or at or above the 5th grade average, whichever is lower; or
  • Children age 10 years or older when it is the informed belief of the school principal and educational staff that an alternate course of educational study would be better suited to the child's rapid acquisition of basic English language skills; or
  • Children with special needs when the school principal and educational staff determine an alternate course of study would be better suited to the child's educational development if the child has been placed in an English language classroom for 30 days or more during that school year. A written description of these special needs must be provided and the local school superintendent, under guidelines established by and subject to the review of the local board of education and ultimately the state board of education, must approve the decision. The existence of such special needs does not compel issuance of a waiver, and the parents must be fully informed of their right to refuse to agree to a waiver.
Schools where 20 or more students at the same grade level have a waiver must provide a class using bilingual or other approved ELL teaching methods or allow students to transfer to a school where the class is offered.

When a parental exception waiver is denied, the parents must be informed in writing of the reasons for denial and advised that they may appeal the decision to the local board of education if an appeal is authorized by the local board of education, or to the court.
Colorado Bilingual, ESL, or any other methods that achieve the purposes of the English Language Proficiency Act
Connecticut Bilingual education programs, which are limited to 30 months. If a student is not English proficient after the 30-month time period, the school district must provide language transition services to the student, including ESL programs, sheltered English and English immersion programs and tutoring and homework assistance. Bilingual education programs are required only in schools with 20 or more ELLs who have the same dominant language.

Secondary school student who enrolls with fewer than 30 months before graduation are placed in an ESL program. 

According to the department of education, anything beyond that is governed by the department's ELL guidebook or federal law rather than regulatory provisions. The department also indicates that relevant policies codified in the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies pertain to a repealed statute and are not followed.
Delaware
Districts must chose a research-based program that has been demonstrated as effective in the education of ELLs. Programs must include formal instruction in English language development and instruction in academic subjects that is designed to provide ELLs with access to the regular curriculum.
District of Columbia Bilingual, ESL
Florida Programs for ELLs must do the following:
  • Use either English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) or home language instructional strategies;
  • Provide courses leading to English language proficiency;
  • Ensure the student's identification and assessment, classification and reclassification;
  • Ensure access to appropriate ESOL/home language instruction and to other programs and services;
  • Ensure qualified instructional personnel and monitoring for program compliance, equal access and program effectiveness.
Georgia
Language assistance to ELLs must be provided through the state-funded ESOL program or placement in a locally-developed language assistance program approved in advance by the state department of education. Approved instructional delivery models include:
  • Pull-out model
  • Push-in model (within reading, language arts, mathematics, science or social studies)
  • A cluster center to which students from two or more schools are transported for intensive language assistance
  • A resource center/laboratory where ELLs receive language assistance in a group setting supplemented by multimedia materials
  • A scheduled class period where ELLs in middle and high school receive language assistance and/or content instruction
  • An innovative delivery model approved in advance by the state department of education through a process described in the ESOL/Title III Resource Guide.
Hawaii Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Idaho Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Illinois
K-12 requirements
In schools with 19 or fewer ELLs of any one language classification, the school district must conduct an student language assessment with each ELL to determine each student's need for home language instruction and the district may provide a transitional bilingual program (TBE) in the students' common language. If the district decides not to provide a TBE, the district must provide a locally determined transitional language instruction program.

In schools with 20 or more ELLs with the same language classification, the school district must establish a TBE program for each language. Schools must conduct a further assessment of those students to determine placement in either a full-time or a part-time program.

Preschool requirements
In school district preschool programs with 20 or more ELLs of any single language in the same school or facility the school district must establish a TBE program for each language. In preschool programs with 19 or fewer ELLs of any one language the school district must conduct individual language assessments for each student to determine each student's need for home language instruction and the district may provide a TBE program in the students' languages. If the district decides not to provide a TBE program, the district must provide another locally determined transitional language instruction program. 

Transitional bilingual education (TBE) programs
Full-time TBE programs must consist of at least the following components:
  • Instruction in subjects that are either required by law or by the student's school district, to be given in the student's home language and in English; core subjects such as math, science and social studies must be offered in the student's home language, except as otherwise provided in state regulation;
  • Instruction in the language arts in the student's home language;
  • Instruction in English as a second language, which must align to WIDA standards; and
  • Instruction in the history and culture of the country, territory, or geographic area that is the native land of the students or of their parents and in the history and culture of the U.S.
Programs may also include other services or activities such as counseling, tutorial assistance, learning settings, or special instructional resources that will assist ELLs in meeting the Illinois Learning Standards and for preschool programs, the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards.
 
Under certain conditions students may attend a part-time program, or students previously in a full-time program may be placed in a part-time program. A part-time program must consist of components of a full-time program that are selected for a particular student based upon an assessment of the student's educational needs. Each student's part-time program must provide daily instruction in English and in the student's home language as determined by the student's needs.

Transitional education programs
Specific requirements for transitional programs:
  • The level of a student's proficiency in English will determine the structure of the student's instructional program.
  • A transitional program of instruction must include instruction or other assistance in the student's home language to the extent necessary to enable the student to keep pace with his or her age or grade peers in achievement in the core academic content areas.
  • A transitional program of instruction may include, but is not limited to, the following components:
    • Instruction in ESL, which must align to WIDA standards;
    • Language arts in the students' home language; and
    • Instruction in the history and culture of the country, territory, or geographic area that is the native land of the students or of their parents and in the history and culture of the United States.
Indiana Per state policy, the state provides bilingual-bicultural programs for ELLs with the ultimate objective of placing ELLs in regular courses of study.
Iowa
Instruction in both public and nonpublic schools must be in the English language, except for ELLs. Both public and nonpublic schools are required to provide special instruction for ELLs, which must include but need not be limited to either instruction in English as a second language or transitional bilingual instruction until the student is fully English proficient or demonstrates a functional ability to speak, read, write, and understand the English language.
Kansas Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Kentucky Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Louisiana Not specified in state law or administrative regulation
Maine
A school may provide instruction in a language other than English in the following circumstances, subject to approval of the commissioner:
  • Transitional instruction using bilingual techniques may be provided to ELLs; and
  • Schools may also establish bilingual programs for the purpose of providing proficiency in both English and a 2nd language.
Maryland
ESL or bilingual
Massachusetts
ELLs must be educated through sheltered English immersion during a temporary transition period normally one year or less; however, kindergarten ELLs must be educated either in sheltered English immersion or English language mainstream classrooms with assistance in English language acquisition, including, but not limited to, English as a second language. Local schools are permitted, but not required, to place in the same classroom ELLs of different ages but whose degree of English proficiency is similar. Local schools are encouraged to mix together in the same classroom ELLs from different native-language groups but with the same degree of English fluency.
 
Parents may apply for a waiver of these requirements with prior written informed consent, to be provided annually. To apply for the waiver, parents must personally visit the school where they will be provided a full description in a language they can understand of the educational materials to be used in the different educational program choices and all the educational opportunities available to the child. If a parental waiver is granted, the student may be transferred to a class teaching English and other subjects through bilingual education techniques or other permitted educational methodologies. Schools where 20 or more students at the same grade level receive a waiver are required to provide a class using bilingual or other approved teaching methods or to allow students to transfer to a public school in which such a class is offered. The circumstances in which a parental exception waiver may be applied for are:
  • Children who already know English: the child already possesses good English language skills, as measured by oral evaluation or standardized tests of English vocabulary comprehension, reading, and writing, in which the child scores approximately at or above the state average for his grade level or at or above the 5th grade average, whichever is lower; or
  • Older children: the child is age 10 years or older, and it is the informed belief of the school principal and educational staff that an alternate course of educational study would be better suited to the child's overall educational progress and rapid acquisition of basic English language skills; or
  • Children with special needs when the school principal and educational staff determine an alternate course of study would be better suited to the child's educational development if the child has been placed in an English language classroom for 30 days or more during that school year. A written description of these special needs must be provided and the local school superintendent, under guidelines established by and subject to the review of the local board of education and ultimately the state board of education, must approve the decision.
Michigan
Bilingual 
Minnesota
English as a second language, bilingual
Mississippi
Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Missouri
Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Montana Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Nebraska ESL and bilingual programs (called "language instruction educational programs"). ESL programs provide instruction predominantly in English.
Nevada School districts provide bilingual or English as a second language programs for ELLs, but students may only participate with parental consent. Currently local school district boards of trustees create policies for teaching ELLs. These are adopted by the state board of education and compliance is monitored by the superintendent of public instruction.
New Hampshire State law requires English-only instruction for all students, although bilingual programs are allowed with the state board and local school district's approval. ELL educational programs are governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
New Jersey Districts with 1-9 ELLs enrolled must provide English language services in addition to the regular school program. Districts with 10 or more ELLs must provide English as a second language program with up to two periods of ESL instruction. Districts with 20 or more ELLs who speak the same language must provide a bilingual program. Students classified as ELLs must also receive ESL instruction. Districts may create dual-language bilingual education programs and enroll students whose primary language is English. Where possible, these programs must have approximately equal numbers of ELLs and primarily English-speaking students.

State policy directs districts to provide additional supports for all ELLs, including supports to students in grades 9-12 to meet graduation requirements. In addition, state policy requires ELLs to participate with their English-only peers in subjects that do not require verbalization, such as art, music, and PE.
New Mexico State policy allows districts to provide a bilingual multicultural education program for ELLs and native or proficient English-speaking students. Some districts provide ESL programs instead of or in addition to bilingual multicultural education programs. ESL programs are governed by the department of education's guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
New York 2014-2105: School districts must provide bilingual education and English as a second language programs for grades K-12. Districts with 20 or more ELLs in the same school at the same grade level that speak the same native language must provide bilingual instruction. If there are fewer than 20 ELLs at the same grade level with the same native language in the same building, districts may provide either an ESL or a bilingual program. Parents of ELLs in schools without a bilingual program in the student's native language may transfer their children to a district school with a bilingual program in the appropriate language. Districts serving ELLs must provide support services, such as counseling and in-home visits, in the first language of the student and the student's parents, when appropriate.

Starting in 2015-2106: Districts must provide English as a new language (ENL) programs (formerly ESL) and bilingual programs. ELLs not served by bilingual programs must be enrolled in an ENL program. Bilingual programs must include the following components: language arts, including home language arts and English language arts; English as a new language; and bilingual content area instruction with a minimum of two core content areas. School districts with 20 or more ELLs in the same district who are at the same grade level and have the same home language must provide a bilingual program. Districts should have enough bilingual education programs to serve at least 70 percent of the estimated ELLs in the district at the same grade level with the same home language. If a student's school does not offer a bilingual education program, students may transfer to another school in the district that provides a the bilingual program serving the student's grade and home language. Districts may seek one-year exemptions from providing bilingual education programs under certain circumstances.

Finally, school districts must determine additional support services to provide ELLs not demonstrating adequate performance, and these services must be aligned with any intervention plans already being provided.
North Carolina School districts must provide one of the following three program types, unless another program can be effectively substituted:
  1. English as a Second Language.
  2. Bilingual education.
  3. Programs which provide neither instruction in the native language nor direct instruction in ESL but which adapt instruction to meet the needs of these students.
Program entry criteria must take into account the student's educational background, English language proficiency, native languge proficiency, and content area knowledge. School districts must conduct a program evaluation annually.
North Dakota School districts select and administer a research-based program that uses curricula aligned with state standards. Districts must also ensure that students in ELL programs participate in the North Dakota English language proficiency assessment program and the North Dakota state assessment program for academic achievement.
Ohio Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Oklahoma Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Oregon State law requires schools to provide ELL programs to students "unable to profit from classes taught in English". Districts must develop a plan for providing instruction to ELLs and list the recognized program model(s) they use, which may include ESL, transitional bilingual education, structured English immersion, and dual language immersion. Beyond that, program approaches are governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Pennsylvania State law requires districts to provide programs for students whose dominant language is not English, including bilingual-bicultural or English as a second language programs.
Rhode Island Districts must select research-based programs that are aligned with state standards and selected or designed by administrators in consultation with endorsed ESL and bilingual teachers, ELLs and their parents, and building administrators. Districts must select one of the following language education models or components of the following models: ESL; sheltered content instruction; collaborative ESL and general education; bilingual education; two-way/dual language; or newcomer program.

Depending on the student's level of English proficiency, the student will receive between 1 and 3 periods of ESL instruction per day. 
South Carolina Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
South Dakota Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Tennessee Students in grades K-12 whose first language is not English and who are identified as ELLs receive English instruction especially designed for speakers of other languages. Beyond that, governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Texas State policy authorizes:
  • Bilingual education in kindergarten through the elementary grades;
  • Bilingual education, instruction in ESL, or other transitional language instruction approved by the state department of education in post-elementary grades through grade 8;
  • Instruction in ESL in grades 9 through 12.
Utah Districts and charter schools may select evidence-based language acquisition programs approved by the state board of education. These models could include dual immersion, ESL content-based, or sheltered instruction programs. Programs must be based on the Utah English Language Proficiency Standards.

The state also allows districts to create one-way and two-way dual immersion programs for Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, or French in elementary schools. Approved schools begin the program in kindergarten or first grade and add an additional grade each year.
Vermont Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Virginia School boards have no obligation to provide instruction, except for foreign language courses, in a language other than English. However, school boards must endeavor to provide English language instruction for students for whom English is a second language and are directed to enroll ELLs in appropriate instructional programs.
Washington School districts must provide eligible students with a transitional bilingual program or, when not practicable, an alternative program. Students may only remain in bilingual or alternative programs for three years unless the student has not met exit criteria on the state-approved language proficiency exam. 
West Virginia School districts must provide a research-based alternative language program to facilitate the student's achievement of English proficiency and the academic content standards.
Wisconsin School districts must provide a bilingual-bicultural education program if there are 10 or more students in grades K-3 or 20 or more students in grades 4-12 in the same language group at the same school. Districts may combine students from separate schools into one bilingual-bicultural program and may contract with other school districts or a cooperative educational service agency. Before starting a bilingual-bicultural program, a school district must submit a written program description and receive approval from the department of education.

School districts with one or more ELL students must have policies about identification, assessment, classification and reclassification, support services, academic achievement and assessment, parental notification of testing, and the design of the education program or support for ELLs.
Wyoming Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.


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