Administrative Letter: Change in English Learner Identification and Exit Criteria

Administrative Letter: 20
Policy Code: IHBEA
To: Public School Administrators
From: Robert G. Hasson, Jr., Ed. D. Commissioner
Date:  October 29, 2018
Subject: Change in English Learner Identification and Exit Criteria

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, states are required to develop uniform statewide policies for identifying and exiting English learners (ELs). In light of this requirement, the Maine Department of Education has sought to review and refine its policies in order to best meet the needs of its students. Over the past year and a half, the Department has collected stakeholder input from around the state regarding its definition of English language proficiency. Additionally, the Department has conducted extensive analysis of assessment data to determine the level of English language proficiency needed in order to succeed academically on par with non-EL peers.

Following the completion of the review and analysis, Maine’s definition of English language proficiency is now a composite proficiency level (CPL) of 4.5, as measured by WIDA ACCESS for ELLs and WIDA Screener Online. All ELs who attain a composite proficiency level of 4.5 or higher on ACCESS for ELLs will be exited from English learner status. Students who achieved a CPL of 4.5-4.9 in 2017 or 2018 will be retroactively exited as of November 1, 2018. Districts will not need to take any action to exit these students, as the Department will do so automatically.

However, districts must take action to exit recently identified students who are no longer eligible for EL services based on the change in identification criteria. Any student who was identified as an English learner with a WIDA Screener Online CPL of 4.5 must be removed from EL status. To change a student’s status in the state student data system, the student’s district superintendent must submit a request for change in English learner identification, including the student’s Language Use Survey and WIDA Screener Online score report. All requests for change in English learner identification must be submitted by November 9, 2018 to ensure accuracy of 2018-19 ACCESS testing rosters. Please note that if a student identified as an EL has already been administered ACCESS for ELLs, he/she must achieve a CPL of 4.5 or higher on ACCESS for ELLs in order to exit.

ELs with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the state alternate academic assessment are administered Alternate ACCESS for ELLs. Please note that the exit threshold for Alternate ACCESS for ELLs has not changed and remains a CPL of P2.

After an EL demonstrates English language proficiency by attaining a CPL of 4.5 or higher on ACCESS for ELLs, federal and state regulations require that schools monitor the student’s academic progress for two years. If during that two-year period a continued need for English language acquisition services becomes apparent, the student must be provided services. Note that in such cases the student will not be designated as an EL in the state student data system and will not be administered ACCESS for ELs.

This Administrative Letter is a supplemental update to Administrative Letter 11, which provides more extensive information about the requirements for serving ELs, including more details on Maine’s EL identification policy.

To assist districts in communicating with students and families about Maine’s new definition of English language proficiency, the Department has developed a student and family guide, translated into the state’s top ten languages.

If you have questions or would like further information regarding serving ELs, please contact April Perkins, ESOL/Bilingual Programs, at, (207)624-6627.