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English Learner Program PLAN

Legal References:

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a series of acts, laws, court decisions, and guidelines have clarified the legal responsibilities of Bismarck Public Schools.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the first piece of federal legislation to address the needs and rights of speakers of other languages in public education, asserting that school districts are responsible for providing equal educational opportunities to national origin minority students with limited English proficiency (LEP). Since then there has been additional legislation to further clarify the distribution of funding and the responsibilities of educators in addressing the education of LEP students, the most recent being the No Child Left Behind Act of2002 (NCLB). The overall slated purpose of NCLB is "To close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility. and choice, so that no child is left behind."

Challenging Standards for English and Content Area Instruction
NCLB requires states to establish challenging academic content standards for all students, and Title III of this act indicates that ELLs are not exempt from meeting these high expectations. It asserts that English learners must develop English proficiency and skills for high academic achievement in English WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY MEETING the same challenging State standards that all students are required to meet.

Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964

"No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Office of Civil Rights Memorandum, 1970

This Memorandum interprets the Civil Rights Acts of 1964. It concerns the responsibility of school districts to provide educational opportunity to national origin minority group students whose English language proficiency is limited. The following excerpts address specific major areas of concern with respect to compliance with Title VI and have the force of Law:
  • Where inability to speak and understand the English language excludes national origin minority group children from effective participation in the educational program offered by a school district, the district must take affirmative steps to rectify the language deficiency in order to open its instructional program to these students.
  • School districts have the responsibility to adequately notify national origin minority group parents of school activities which are called to the attention of other parents. Such notice, in order to be adequate, may have to be provided in a language other than English.
  • School districts must not assign national origin minority group students to special education on the basis of criteria which essentially measure or evaluate English language skills; nor may school districts deny national origin minority group children access to college preparation courses on a basis directly related to the failure of the school system to inculcate English language skills,
  • Any ability grouping or tracking system employed by the school system to deal with the special language skill needs of national origin minority group children must be designed to meet such language skill needs as soon as possible and must not operate as an educational dead-end or permanent track.

No Child Left Behind (January 12, 2002)

The term "limited English proficient" is described in No Child Left Behind legislation (NCLB 2000) as an individual:
  • Who is age 3-21 and enrolled or preparing to enroll in an elementary school or secondary school;
  • Who was not born in the United States or whose language is a language other than English; or who comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on the individual's level of English language proficiency; OR
  • Who is migratory, whose native language is a language other than English, and who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant; AND
  • "'Whose difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language may be sufficient to deny the individual:
    1. The ability to meet the state's proficient level of achievement on state assessments;
    2. The ability to successfully achieve in classrooms where the language of instruction is English;
    3. The opportunity to participate fully in society. (Title IX, Section 9109, No Child Left Behind Act. 2001)

    Title I and Title III of No Child Left Behind state requirements for the assessment of limited English proficient students.
    • Accountability through Assessment NCLB also calls for accountability in meeting State standards through high quality assessments. Schools must not only demonstrate improvements in students' English proficiency each school year, but also demonstrate that English learners are making the same "adequate yearly progress" as other students. As a result, ELLs must participate in annual State assessments:
      • ELLs must take annual standardized tests assessing English language proficiency.
      • ELLs are required to take the same State tests as all other students. Refer to DPI in ELL administrative binder for accommodations for ELLs on the NDSA.
      • Test scores of L.EP students who have been in the United States less than a year are exempt from the language arts portion of the NDSA their first year. They still are still required to participate and take the mathematics portion with appropriate accommodations. These scores will count towards the percentage of students assessed but not AYP.
    • Language Proficiency Assessment Requirements for LEP students:
      • School districts must assess annually the English language proficiency or LEP students in speaking, reading, writing, and listening. Scores from the language proficiency test must be submitted to the Department of Public Instruction by June of the current school year.

    Other References:
    Lau vs. Nichols (197.1)
    Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974
    The Lau Remedies (1975)

    Statement of Commitment

    The Bismarck Public School system is committed to providing appropriate education services to Limited English students. We understand our legal responsibility to provide appropriate placement, along with curricular, instructional, and other related services 10 ensure that all English Language Learners are equipped to participate effectively in the schools' educational programs.

    To accomplish this, Bismarck Public Schools is committed to implementing the LAU Plan, which details the procedural requirements and services to be provided to English
    Language Learners, including identification, assessment, registration, placement, exit criteria, and procedures to ensure appropriate identification of LEP students requiring special education services.

    Bismarck Public Schools' English Language Acquisition Program ensures that these services are provided and that all federal and state regulations and standards regarding the education of English Language Learners are implemented in the schools. Equally important, is that our ELL program is consistent with best educational practices. Both research and experience have proven that such programs provide the most valuable educational opportunities for LEP students.

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