Unique characteristics

Unique characteristics

November 2014

Some states have provisions in state policy that did not fit neatly into one category but are worthy of highlight.

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.

Unique characteristics
The English language proficiency act excellence award program gives grants to districts and charter schools that achieve the highest English language and academic growth among ELLs and the highest academic achievement for ELLs who exit the English language proficiency program. Grant criteria and amounts are set by the state board of education and are based on the qualifying districts' and charter schools' total student enrollment and concentration of ELLs.
The professional development and student support program provides moneys to local education providers to:
  • Offset the costs incurred in complying with reporting requirements;
  • Provide effective professional development activities related to teaching ELLs for all educators who may work with ELLs in the classroom; and
  • Expand programs to help students who, at any time, have been identified as ELLs to achieve greater content proficiency.
If a parent refuses to have his or her child enrolled in an ELL program, the student's principal or another representative of the school must meet with the parent to:
  • Describe the range of programs and services that the child could receive if the parent does not refuse enrollment, including the methodology the district plans to employ to address the student's educational needs and the training and qualifications of teachers and any others who would be employed in teaching the student;
  • Discuss the benefits their child is likely to gain by being enrolled in an ELL program and receiving ELL services;
  • Explain that the district will not require students to be assigned to programs specifically designated for ELLs, or schools containing such programs, in order to receive ELL services.
The Hawaiian language education program provides instruction to students in the Hawaiian language. 
Nonresident students. A school district may allow nonresident ELLs to attend its transitional bilingual program. The student's tuition will be paid by the student's district of residence. School districts may combine efforts to provide any transitional bilingual education progroams required or permitted by law.
Advisory council. Members of the Advisory Council on Bilingual Education are appointed by the state superintendent of education and selected for their experience in or knowledge of the bilingual education programs. The Council advises the state superintendent on policy and rules pertaining to bilingual education. 

Language acquisition services for certain students exiting the program. Although federal law requires school districts to provide language support services to students after exiting an ELL program, state law allows school districts to discontinue services to students who have been in the transitional bilingual education (TBE) or transitional program of instruction (TPI) for three consecutive years. When discontinuing TBE or TPI program services for students who have not achieved English proficiency, the district must submit a plan to the state superintendent that describes how it will meet its obligations under federal law. The plan must include at least:
  • The process and criteria the district will use to determine when to exit eligible students from the TBE or TPI program (e.g., after a certain amount of time in the program, once a prescribed academic or proficiency level is achieved);
  • The language acquisition services and methods to be provided, including how the services and methods differ from the general program of instruction in content, instructional goals, and the use of English and home language instruction;
  • How the program will meet the educational needs of the students and build on their academic strengths;
  • How the program will specifically help the students learn English and meet academic achievement standards for grade promotion and graduation;
  • The names and qualifications of the staff who will implement the program; and
  • How sufficient resources, including equipment and instructional materials, will be made available to support the program.
Student-Teacher Ratio. The student-teacher ratio in the ESL programs must not exceed 90 percent of the average student-teacher ratio in general education classes for the same grades in the same school. Additional students may be placed into bilingual classes during the course of a school year but no bilingual classroom may have a student-teacher ratio greater than the average for general education classes in the same grade and school. These requirements do not apply to preschool programs with bilingual education services, but they must meet the requirements of the Early Childhood Block Grant.

Program integration. ELLs must participate fully with their English-speaking classmates in classes where language is not essential to an understanding of the subject matter, including art, music, and physical education.
ESL and transitional bilingual programs offered by a public school district must provided to students attending an accredited private school in the district. 
Cooperative agreements. School boards for two or more districts may enter into cooperative agreements to share the cost, operation, and administration of a bilingual education program.
Technical assistance. School boards may request technical advice and assistance from the state board on establishing and operating a bilingual education program, including assistance in conducing teacher in-service training. The state board may provide this assistance in cooperation with the advisory committee on Hispanic affairs and other appropriate agencies and organizations. The state board may also provide school boards with information about materials, resources, procedures, and programs for qualified teachers related to bilingual education programs.
Massachusetts Legal remedies. All school children must be provided an English language public education at their assigned school. Parents may apply for exception waivers. Parents of any child have legal standing to sue for enforcement of the English language education laws.

On-site evaluations. The department of education must conduct on-site visits to school districts at least once every five years to evaluate the effectiveness of programs serving ELLs and to validate evidence of educational outcomes. The evaluation must include, but is not limited to, a review of individual student records of all ELLs, a review of the programs and services provided to ELLs and a review of the dropout rate of ELLs formerly enrolled in the district within the prior three years. If the review and evaluation demonstrates that a district is failing to adequately improve educational outcomes for ELLs, the commissioner may recommend to the board of education that any school within the district be declared "underperforming." 
The commissioner must provide technical assistance to districts receiving ELL program aid and to postsecondary institutions for preservice and in-service training for bilingual education teachers and ESL teachers employed in language development on teaching methods, curriculum development, testing and testing mechanisms, and developing instructional materials for language development programs.
New Jersey In addition to parents, teachers may also appeal the decision that a student remain in or exit an ESL or bilingual education program.
New Mexico The bilingual and multicultural education act created voluntary programs for districts to help their students, including ELLs, become bilingual and biliterate in a second language. Programs are voluntary and districts applying to start one must meet numerous criteria. These programs are encouraged for Native American languages and Spanish. Districts may also provide ESL programs in place of or in addition to bilingual and multicultural education programs.
New York Starting in 2015-2016:  School districts must prepare an annual estimate of enrollment of ELLs before the end of each school year based on the previous ELL enrollment data. These reports must include an estimate of the number of ELLs expected to be enrolled in each school and in each grade within each school, as well as the number of ELLs in the district who speak the same home language. The Commissioner must make these reports widely available.
North Carolina The department of education provides school districts with a list of all teachers in the district with an ESL license. School districts may create a joint agreement with other districts to provide programs to ELLs. In addition, districts may coordinate services with those available at local community colleges to efficiently serve ELLs and their parents.
North Dakota School districts may provide ELL programs through one of three options: (1) adopt and implement its own program; (2) provide ELL programs in conjunction with other districts through a multidistrict association; or (3) pay tuition and other costs for its ELLs to participate in another school district or multidistrict association's ELL programs.

Schools will convene a language support team for students identified as ELLs, including ESL or bilingual teachers, classroom teachers, a parent, and others involved in the child's education. The language support team will discuss the student's language and educational needs and may develop an individualized language plan for the student based on English proficiency and academic achievement. The plan will include goals for improvement, type of langue instruction to be provided to the student, and related services and accommodations the student needs.
Oklahoma The Oklahoma Advisory Council on Bilingual Education was created to advise and make recommendations to the department of education as they strive to improve education for ELLs. However, the Council has no authority to make official recommendations. 
Oregon The department of education may give school districts grants to train ESL teachers, particularly in schools with an extraordinary need for ESL teachers or additional training for existing ESL teachers. Districts may reimburse teachers for the cost of an ESL or bilingual teacher training program.

The state created a dual-language/two-way bilingual grant to support districts and charter schools with dual-language programs.

School districts must allow ELLs to take Oregon's Essential Skills math assessment in their native language if the students are on track to meet graduation requirements but unable to demonstrate proficiency in the English Essential Skills assessment by the end of 11th grade.
Rhode Island School districts with ELL programs must designate an administrator or an ELL coordinator with an ESL certificate or endorsement to be responsible for the ELL program. Districts with high numbers of ELLs must have at least one ELL School/Community Liaison to effectively support the district’s ELL program and coordinate with the students' families.

The state advisory council provides guidance to the department of education on all matters pertaining to the education of ELLs. School districts must also create a district-wide ELL advisory council.
School districts unable to staff their bilingual education and ESL programs with fully certified teachers must use at least 10 percent of their bilingual education allotment for preservice and inservice training to improve the skills of the teachers who provide instruction in language development programs and/or content area instruction in special classes for English language learners.
Utah Department of education staff must make on-site visits to ELL programs every five years and provide on-site technical assistance as necessary.
Washington The superintendent must develop an evaluation system to measure the English and academic proficiency of ELLs. This system must have a way to evaluate former ELLs after exiting ELL programs until they finish their K-12 career or transfer from the school district. In addition, the superintendent and the state board for community and technical colleges must develop a program to provide continuing education to college-age students who are eligible for the transitional bilingual program but need more time to develop language proficiency.
Wisconsin School district policies should include assurances that districts will provide programs and services that reflect the cultural background of ELLs and may include instruction intended to improve the students' skills in the use of their native language to help them become proficient or advanced in all subject areas.

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