On Friday, the U.S. Department of Education (the “Department”) released guidance regarding services and resources for English learners (“ELs”) to be provided under the Every Student Succeeds Act (“ESSA”). ELs are among the fastest-growing populations in public schools in the United States, making up nearly 10 percent of the student population nationwide. A growing concern for the Department is the graduation rate of ELs; in the 2013-2014 school year, the high school graduation rate for ELs was 62.6 percent, which was almost twenty percentage points lower than the graduation rates of all students at 82.3 percent.

The aim of this guidance is to assist states and school districts in efforts to improve educational outcomes for ELs. For example, the guidance addresses through the use of early learning programs and services for ELs with disabilities.

This guidance also addresses the following additional topics:

  • Use of Title I and Title III funds to serve ELs, as well as the availability of ESSA funds for states or school districts to administer English language proficiency assessments;
  • Standards and requirements for English language proficiency standards;
  • State and district requirements for Language Instruction Educational Programs (LIEP);
  • Professional development of educators of ELs;
  • Parent, family, and community engagement requirements;
  • Serving immigrant children and youth;
  • Reporting requirements, including the disaggregation of EL data; and
  • Long-term ELs and former ELs: definitions, reporting requirement, and data collection.

This guidance does not address the following topics, which the Department has indicated will be addressed through notice and comment rulemaking:

  • Inclusion of ELs in academic content assessments in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science;
  • English language proficiency assessments;
  • Accountability and school improvement under Title I; and
  • New Title III requirement that all states establish and implement standardized statewide entrance and exit procedures for ELs.

To access the complete guidance, please click on the following link to the Non-Regulatory Guidance: English Learners and Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).