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)

Department of Education – September 2016

This memo from the Dept. of Education provides guidance to states and local education agencies about the education of English learners (ELs). The memo emphasizes the civil rights aspect of EL instruction, and urges the use of funds for ELs to only supplement existing programs (not replace them). It also encourages the use dis-aggregated data for ELs with disabilities, former ELs, and long-term ELs (those who have been learning English for five years or more).

The DoE also asks that local education agencies, like districts, provide outreach to adults who influence the education of EL students outside of school, providing them information opportunities for real involvement in student learning. This outreach might include family literacy and ESL services designed to help parents assist in their students’ education.

The DoE states that English-language proficiency standards are distinct from ELA standards. While the former measures how well students speak, read, write, and understand English, the latter measures their command of the state’s ELA standards. EL student assessments must measure the students’ development using the state’s educational standards.

Title III provides funds for teachers to receive high-quality professional development with regard to language for teachers of ELs and all administrators in schools where ELs are enrolled. Title III also includes PD for preschool teachers, and the memo emphasizes developmentally appropriate English language instruction.

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