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Specialized Instruction

In general terms, an English learner (EL) is a student who is in the process of acquiring English proficiency and has a first language other than English or in addition to English. The EL status remains with the student until s/he shows English proficiency enabling the student to:

  • Listen, speak, read, and write in English
  • Be successful in the classroom setting where there is language instruction
  • Be able to actively participate in his/her classroom, school, community, and beyond

ELs are among the fastest-growing populations in our schools. ELs comprise about 10 percent of the student population nationwide, and Iowa, at over six percent, is catching up.

All Iowa districts need to be prepared to serve ELs, including immigrant children and youth. All are required by law to have a Lau Plan in place. This is a requirement regardless of EL enrollment. (See Lau Plan Requirement for ALL districts below).

ELs are a widely heterogeneous group who bring a depth of linguistic and cultural assets to the schools in which they are enrolled. In spite of these assets, ELs continue to experience significant gaps in both achievement and in the opportunities in our schools compared to their non-EL peers. ELs are underrepresented in gifted and talented programming, extracurricular activities, and high-level courses. ELs are often over (or under) identified in special education. With effective research-based supports and access to excellent educators, ELs are capable of the same high level of learning as native English speakers.

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Standardized Entrance and Exit Procedures for Iowa's English Learners

Standardized Entrance and Exit Procedures for Iowa's English Learners - The purpose of this document is to ensure standardized procedures for the entrance and exit of English learners in the state of Iowa. It is crucial that every district understand and adhere to these procedures.

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ELP Standards

English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards

The ELPA21 Summative Assessment is the growth measure used to assess English language proficiency. This assessment is tightly aligned to the Iowa English Language Proficiency Standards and corresponds to the Iowa’s academic standards for English/Language Arts. Placement decisions are made using the ELPA21 Screener.

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ELPA21 stands for English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century and is an assessment system that provides information regarding student proficiency of the English language overall, as well as in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and comprehension. The ELPA21 assessment system includes a summative measure of English language proficiency, a placement screener, and professional learning modules supporting a deeper understanding of Iowa’s ELP Standards.

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Lau Plan Requirement

All school districts, regardless of English learner enrollment, must have a Lau Plan. (This is required by the Office of Civil Rights and Iowa Code 216.9.

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Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Guidance and Allocations

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English Learner Tool Kit

English Learner Tool Kit is a 161-page document from the Office of English Language Acquisition outlining legal obligations for ELs. The toolkit helps state and local education agencies help ELs by fulfilling these obligations.

Toolkit links by chapter:

  1. Identifying All English Learner Students
  2. Providing English Learners with a Language Assistance Program
  3. Staffing and Supporting an EL Program
  4. Meaningful Access to Core Curricular, Extra Curricular Programs
  5. Creating an Inclusive Environment and Avoiding Unnecessary Segregation
  6. Addressing English Learners with Disabilities
  7. Serving English Learners who Opt-Out of EL Programs
  8. Monitoring and Exiting English Learners from EL Programs and Services
  9. Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Districts EL Program
  10. Ensuring Meaningful Communication with Limited English Proficient Parents
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When English Learners Become Proficient

Students are now exited (reclassified) and move to non-EL status upon testing proficient on the English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA21). ELPA21 proficient students may not be kept in EL status. This is new under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), effective in spring 2019. The ELPA21 addresses personal, social, and academic language use and needs. Note any ongoing literacy needs upon reclassification, as all students who exhibit literacy needs can expect local supports; typically, in Iowa, this is provided through a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework regardless of categorization, label, or status.

Each district’s data entry person must ensure that exited (reclassified) students are coded appropriately as a 4 and moved into monitoring status to ensure that unwarranted weighted funding is not given. Collecting funds for non-ELs is illegal. For information about monitoring, contact your AEA EL consultant.

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