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English Learners

The English Learner (EL) program supports multilingual learners in acquiring the English they need in order to succeed in the classroom and beyond, in accordance with the State of Minnesota Guidelines and English Language Proficiency Standards. Incoming students are tested for English proficiency when entering District 196 schools, as well as periodically throughout the school year to determine progress and eligibility for continued instruction.

In EL settings, English learners are part of an English language learning experience where students engage in content study and English learning simultaneously. Students are grouped by proficiency level at the elementary through high school level and may or may not share the same native language.

English Learning Identification

In Minnesota, an English learner (EL) is defined as a learner who meets the following requirements:

  • The pupil,  as declared by a parent or guardian uses a language other than English; and
  • The pupil is determined by a valid assessment measuring the pupil’s English language proficiency and by developmentally appropriate measures, which might include observations, teacher judgment, parent recommendations, or developmentally appropriate assessment instruments, to lack the necessary English skills to participate fully in academic classes taught in English.

Multilingual students are first identified by the Minnesota Language Survey (MNLS). All parents and guardians enrolling a new student in the district must be provided the MNLS.  When a language other than English is identified district staff determine if the student was already classified as an English learner or the student will have their academic English language proficiency assessed using the required assessment to determine if the learner qualifies for English learner service.

English learners come from many different backgrounds.  English learners may include:

  • Students who are born in the U.S. and speak a language in addition to English at home;
  • Students who are born in the U.S. and speak a language other than English at home;
  • Immigrant students who’ve had formal schooling in another language;
  • Immigrant students who’ve had interrupted or limited formal education, and/or
  • Refugee students who’ve learned a language other than or in addition to English.

Entrance and Exit Procedures

The following lists the criteria used for determining student eligibility in the English learner (EL) Program. As defined by the State of Minnesota, students identified as English learners must have a home language other than English and be determined by developmentally appropriate measures to lack the necessary English skills to participate fully in academic classes taught in English.

Step 1:  Identification of primary language(s) using parent responses on  the Minnesota Language Survey (MNLS)

Step 2:  Screening for English language ability using a state-approved language proficiency assessment.

Step 3:  Parent Notification – Parents are notified within the first two weeks of enrollment that their child qualifies for EL services using the District’s Parent Notification Form. Included in the notification is amount of time and type of EL service the child with receive. The letter informs parents of their right to refuse service.

Step 4: The student is enrolled in a Language Instruction Educational Program and receives instruction from a licensed ESL teacher.  All students identified as English learners participate annually in the ACCESS English language proficiency assessment.

Step 5: Exit and Reclassification – The student is exited from EL service and reclassified when the student meets Minnesota’s standardized proficiency criteria on the ACCESS assessment.

Frequently Asked Questions

My child was born here.  Can he still receive help from the EL Teacher?

Yes.  85% of of all pre-K to 5th grade students with EL status and 62% of 6-12th grade students with EL status were born in the U.S.
A student may receive EL services if the student was born in the United States and first learned a language other than English and/or comes from a home where a language other than English is usually spoken. The student must qualify for EL services based on the district’s language assessments.

My child speaks English well. Why is he receiving EL service?

Your child may be demonstrating a higher level of English proficiency. More proficient students often exhibit strong oral language and strong social language while still needing support with reading and writing academic language.

Can I refuse EL support for my child?

Yes. You have the right to refuse EL service. Refusal of service needs to be done annually, so parents can have the most current data on their child’s learning and can make informed decisions about EL service.

How is a student exited from the EL program?

Please see the “Entrance and exit procedures” tab

Can the district ask for a student’s immigration status?

No. In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plyer v. Doe [457 U.S 202 (1982)] that undocumented students have the same right to attend public school as do U.S. citizens and permanent residents. As a result, public schools may not engage in any practices that “chill” or hinder the right or access to school. This includes requiring students or parents to disclose or document their immigration status.