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English Learners

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There are many programs and services to help students who do not speak, read, write or understand English well. There are programs for students, parents, and immigrants. The overall goal of these programs is to improve the English language skills of students.  The Empire Union School District is committed to assisting students with a language other than English in their homes in developing proficiency in speaking, reading, writing, and understanding English.  The district strives to achieve the following goals:

  • Ensure that English learners acquire full proficiency in English as rapidly and effectively as possible and attain parity with native speakers of English.
  • Ensure that English learners, within a reasonable period of time, achieve the same rigorous grade-level academic standards that are expected of all students.

Meeting these two goals will help close the achievement gap that separates English learners from their native English-speaking peers. In order to accomplish these goals, all English learners are provided with English language development (ELD) instruction targeted to their English proficiency level and appropriate academic instruction in one of three settings:

  • Structured English Immersion (SEI)—A classroom setting where English learners who have not yet acquired reasonable fluency in English, as defined by the school district, receive instruction through an English language acquisition process, in which nearly all classroom instruction is in English but with a curriculum and presentation designed for children who are learning the language.
  • English Language Mainstream (ELM)—A classroom setting for English learners who have acquired reasonable fluency in English, as defined by the school district.In addition to ELD instruction, English learners continue to receive additional and appropriate educational services in order to recoup any academic deficits that may have been incurred in other areas of the core curriculum as a result of language barriers.
  • Alternative Program (Alt)—A language acquisition process in which English learners receive ELD instruction targeted to their English proficiency level and academic subjects are taught in the primary language, as defined by the school district. Placement in an alternative program is triggered by the parents through a parental exception waiver.

At the beginning of each school year, state and federal laws require all California schools to administer the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) to students currently identified as English learners.  The CELDT is designed to address the students' level of proficiency in English in the four domains of language development: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  Students are then placed in the appropriate instructional setting (see above) according to their results on the CELDT.  Their progress is monitored on an annual basis.



Upon registering a student in a California school, the parents will complete a Home Language Survey.  California Education Code 52164.1(a) states that "the primary language of new pupils shall be determined as they enroll in the school district".  The Home Language Survey is a tool used to determine the language(s) spoken in the student's home.  This information is essential in order for schools to provide meaningful instruction for all students.  State regulations require that all students whose home language is a language other than English must complete an assessment of their proficiency in English within 30 calendar days of their initial enrollment in a school in California.



The CELDT must be administered once a year to English learner students until they are reclassified as fluent English proficient.  The CELDT was instituted by Education Code sections 313 and 60810(d) to serve three purposes:

  • Identify students who are limited English proficient
  • Determine the level of English language proficiency of students who are limited English proficient
  • Assess the progress of limited English proficient students in acquiring the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English

The students receive a score for each part of the test taken, as well as an overall score.  Solely on the basis of the CELDT, the students are then classified as either Initially Fluent English Proficient (IFEP) or English learner (EL).

Parents cannot "opt out" of taking the CELDT because the English language proficiency assessment is both a federal (NCLB Title I §1111[b][7] and Title III, 2002) and state requirement (E.C. 313).

A student is considered to be reasonably fluent in English by scoring Intermediate on each skill area and overall score of the CELDT.  By these criteria, the students are then placed in the English Language Mainstream Program with additional support services.  If students score Early Intermediate or Beginner on each skill area and overall score, then those students are considered less than reasonably fluent in English and placed in the Structured English Immersion Program.

For more CELDT resources, click here.


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