Professional Learning Opportunity: Deepen Your Knowledge and Skills to Better Support Students who are Multilingual Learners

The Maine Department of Education is excited to announce an excellent opportunity for all Maine educators to deepen their knowledge and skills for supporting students who are English learners (ELs) (also referred to as multilingual learners [MLs]).

Organized by UCLA Center X Northeast Region, the ExcEL Leadership Academy provides teachers with free professional learning through a program of micro-credentialing. Through a project called ExcEL 2026: Improving Outcomes for EL Students in Rural Areas there are two micro-credential pathways: Essential Support for Working with Multi-Lingual Learners and Advanced Support for Working with Multi-Lingual Learners.

ExcEL 2026 makes professional learning accessible to teachers wherever they are located, and ‘the work’ is embedded in their teaching so it aligns with their immediate learning needs. Teachers also become part of the ExcEL network and substantially improve outcomes for students who are ELs. There is NO cost to participate. Participants receive stipends for successfully completing micro-credentials as well as support for classroom materials and supplies.

Visit the ExcEL Leadership Academy website to learn more and apply.  Maine educators are also invited to join project director Laureen Avery on December 13th from 3-4pm for more information! Contact Laureen Avery at avery@gseis.ucla.edu if you have any questions about how ExcEL 2026 can support you and your colleagues in improving programs for ELs.

Topic: Maine ExcEL 2026 Info Session
Time: Dec 13, 2021 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting: https://ucla.zoom.us/j/3300361098
Meeting ID: 330 036 1098

WEBINAR: The Maine Seal of Biliteracy

On November 16th at 3pm, April Perkins, World Languages & ESOL/Bilingual Programs Specialist, is hosting a webinar on the Maine Seal of Biliteracy.

Teachers, school counselors, and principals are welcome to attend. The webinar will describe the eligibility criteria and application process, as well as the benefits for students who earn the Seal of Biliteracy.

Register here, and contact April at april.perkins@maine.gov with any questions.

Two-Part Webinar Series on Nurturing Speaking Growth for English Learners

The Maine Department of Education invites all educators, Kindergarten to Grade 12, to participate in a two-part webinar series on Nurturing Speaking Growth for students who are English learners. Facilitated by Terri Mosgrove of WIDA, this webinar series is designed to support all educators who would like to explore the connection between the ACCESS Speaking Test and classroom practices that promote oral language development.

Participants will explore the underpinnings of the Speaking Test in a self-paced module that allows for choice and control. In each webinar, participants will engage in meaning making activities that provide ways to nurture students’ speaking growth. Participants will be asked to speak and share ideas with colleagues within the virtual event.

By engaging in the eWorkshop, participants will:

  • Apply the underpinnings of the Speaking Assessment to classroom practice
  • Connect the Key Language Uses to instructional practices in speaking
  • Explore the impact of holding the floor for extended classroom discourse
  • Choose Teacher Moves to support student voice
  • Develop an ear for language to support precision decisions.

Dates: 10.19.21 and 10.26.21

Times: 2-3:30pm

Register here – closes on 10.11.21.

Note that these webinars will not be recorded, per WIDA policy, and alternate tasks will be provided for registered participants who are unable to attend. If you have any questions, please contact April Perkins, World Languages & ESOL/Bilingual Programs Specialist, at april.perkins@maine.gov.

Administrative Letter: Legal Requirements to Provide English Language Acquisition Services to Students who are English Learners (Revised 9.15.2021)

Administrative Letter: #27
Policy Code: IHBEA
TO: Public School Administrators
FROM: Pender Makin, Commissioner
DATE: August 22, 2019, Revised September 15, 2021

SUBJECT: The legal requirements for providing English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services to students who are English learners

Topics included in this letter:

  • Identification of students who are English learners
  • Exit criteria from ESOL services
  • Delivery of ESOL services
  • Administration of ACCESS for ELLs®
  • Enrollment of students who are immigrants and international students
  • Rights of students who are English learners to education
  • Students who are English learners and Special Education

Identification of Students Who are English Learners (EL)

Revision:

It is a federal requirement that all students who are English learners be identified within 30 days of enrollment from the beginning of the school year. For students enrolling at the start of the school year, parents/guardians must be notified of their child’s English learner status within the same 30-day period. After the start of the school year, SAUs must notify parents/guardians within two weeks of their child’s identification.

Each School Administrative Unit (SAU) must administer the Maine Department of Education’s Language Use Survey to the parent/guardian of every student, pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, enrolling in the SAU for the first time. The Language Use Survey must be included in the SAU’s enrollment packet or online enrollment system. If a student changes schools within a SAU, a new Language Use Survey is not required.

The Language Use Survey is available for download on the Maine Department of Education website   in English and 25 of Maine’s most commonly spoken languages. Parents/guardians are entitled to complete the Language Use Survey in their preferred language. SAUs must provide translation/interpretation services upon request.

The purpose of the Language Use Survey is to identify potential students who are English learners. The Language Use Survey decision tree provides guidance on its use. If any question is answered with a language other than English, the student should be administered an English language proficiency screener. (Note that Sign Language is not a qualifying language for English learner status. However, if a student uses Sign Language and an additional language other than English, the student may be eligible for English learner status.) See the resource and policy guide, Serving Maine’s Students who are English Learners, for information about the required screeners and identification thresholds, by grade level.

Students who were screened for EL status but did not initially qualify may be rescreened at any time if a potential need for ESOL support becomes apparent.

Exit Criteria from ESOL Services

In order to exit from ESOL services, a student must demonstrate English language proficiency. The Maine Department of Education defines English language proficiency as an overall composite proficiency level of 4.5 on ACCESS for ELLs®. No other measure qualifies a student who is an English learner for exit. While a district may choose to continue to provide language support services to students who have demonstrated English language proficiency, such students are no longer classified as English learners and are no longer administered ACCESS for ELLs® (or Alternate ACCESS, if applicable).

Students who are English learners with an IEP exemption from a domain or domains on ACCESS for ELLs/Alternate ACCESS are eligible to exit based on their performance on the non-exempt domains. The Maine Department of Education calculates an overall composite proficiency level for such students, utilizing a score of 4.5 on the exempt domain(s) and weighting domains according to WIDA’s overall composite score weighted formula.

Monitoring and Reentry into EL Status

Per federal guidance, SAUs are to monitor the performance of former students who are English learners for at least two years after exiting. If, during the two years of monitoring, or at any time thereafter, a former student who is an English learner shows a potential need for continued ESOL support, the student must be rescreened with the WIDA Screener Online to determine English learner status. If a student scores below the state-defined identification threshold, he/she must be reentered into English learner status, must receive ESOL services, and must take ACCESS for ELLs (or Alternate ACCESS, if applicable) until exiting.

Delivery of ESOL Services

An SAU is required to determine the components of an effective English language acquisition program tailored to the needs of each student, which may include, but is not limited to, tutoring, additional classroom support, materials, sheltered instruction, professional development for content area teachers, or other strategies (Office for Civil Rights December 1985 Title VI policy memorandum, Title VI Language Minority Compliance Procedures).

The Maine Department of Education requires the English language support program for a student who is an English learner to be provided or overseen by a 660 ESOL-endorsed teacher. (See 34 Code of Federal Regulations C.F.R. Section 100.3 (b)(ii)). All students who are English learners must be provided with English language support services that enable them to meaningfully access the curriculum in order to meet grade-level standards. English language development and content area knowledge are to be acquired simultaneously, rather than consecutively. In other words, English language proficiency is not a prerequisite to participate in mainstream classes. If students who are English learners receive services that remove them from content area classes (such as a newcomer program or pull-out services), any academic deficits that result must be remedied so the student remains on track with his/her non-EL peers academically.

English language support services are to be provided in a way that minimizes the isolation of students who are English learners from the general student population and encourages students who are English learners to participate in all aspects of the school program, including advanced coursework, career and technical education, gifted and talented programs, and extracurricular activities. Students who are English learners are entitled to ESOL services until exiting by demonstrating English language proficiency on ACCESS for ELLs® (or Alternate ACCESS, if applicable).

Administration of ACCESS for ELLs® or Alternate ACCESS

Federal and State laws require that the English language proficiency of all students who are English learners be measured annually as a component of accountability under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). If a student is identified as an English learner, that student must be administered ACCESS for ELLs (or Alternate ACCESS, if applicable) annually until the student demonstrates English language proficiency. The Maine Department of Education defines English language proficiency as a composite proficiency level of 4.5 on ACCESS for ELLs or level P2 on Alternate ACCESS. Failure of all students who are English learners to participate in the annual administration of ACCESS for ELLs/Alternate ACCESS may affect ESEA Title IA funding.

State law requires that ACCESS for ELLs/Alternate ACCESS be administered only by an individual trained it its administration. It is not required that this individual be an ESOL-endorsed teacher. However, only an ESOL-endorsed teacher is qualified to design, oversee, and implement an English language support program, which includes the interpretation of ACCESS for ELLs/Alternate ACCESS results.

If parents/guardians have questions about the purpose of ACCESS for ELLs/Alternate ACCESS, direct them to ACCESS for ELLs: FAQs for Parents/Guardians.

Enrollment of Immigrants and International Students

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, among other factors, by public schools. SAUs are required under federal law to enroll children regardless of citizenship or immigration status (Plyler vs. Doe). This applies  equally to students who are immigrants and international students attending a Maine public school as an exchange student or tuition-paying student. All students, including those who are immigrants and international students, must be screened for English learner status. Any student who is identified as an English learner, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, is entitled to ESOL services and must be administered ACCESS for ELLs (or Alternate ACCESS, if applicable) annually. International/exchange students are not exempt from Title I required state academic assessments. In Maine, recently arrived English learners who have been enrolled in a U.S. school for less than 12 months are exempt from one administration of the state’s English language arts assessment only. See the

SAUs are not permitted to discourage the enrollment of children who are undocumented immigrants by asking about their immigration status, denying enrollment to those with international birth certificates, or denying enrollment to children whose parents decline to provide their social security numbers or race and ethnicity information. Federal regulations allow schools to ask for children’s social security numbers to be used as student identifiers. However, they should inform parents of the purpose and that disclosure of such numbers is voluntary. Schools may not deny enrollment if parents refuse to provide a child’s social security number. SAUs may require proof that a child lives within SAU boundaries, which may include lease agreements, utility bills, or other documents. However, schools may not ask parents about a child’s immigration status to establish residency. SAUs may require proof of a child’s age, but they may not bar enrollment because a child has an international birth certificate or no birth certificate. See this fact sheet from the Departments of Justice and Education for more details about acceptable documentation requests.

Rights of Students who are English Learners to Education

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 remains the foundation of the legal rights of aa student who is an English learner. Lau v. Nichols confirms that all students who are English learners are entitled to meaningful access to the curriculum. If a parent refuses ESOL services this must be documented, but parental refusal does not release the school or SAU from its responsibility to provide meaningful education to students who are English learners. If a student who is an English learner cannot make academic progress without ESOL services, the student has a right to ESOL services, even if a parent refuses. Parental consent is not required to administer an English language proficiency screener or ACCESS for ELLs/Alternate ACCESS. Under State law SAUs are responsible for administering ACCESS for ELLs® to all students who are English learners, regardless of parental consent (20-A M.R.S. §6209(1-A)).

Students who are English Learners and Special Education

Students may qualify for, and have legal entitlement to, both ESOL and special education services. Appropriate screening is required to determine students’ eligibility for each type of service. Depending on a student’s learning disability and Individual Education Plan (IEP), universal testing tools or accommodations may be needed in order to measure English language proficiency. When evaluating a student who is an English learner for learning disabilities, screening must be linguistically and culturally appropriate. It is advisable to measure a student’s skills in the student’s primary language in order to clarify whether challenges are due to a learning disability or English language development.

Students who are English learners should not be placed in a special education program unless their exceptionality is well-documented, and appropriate procedures for special education services have been followed. English learner status is not a disability and is not covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Maine Unified Special Education Regulations (MUSER).

For students who are English learners with IEP teams, the United States Department of Education has provided the following guidance:

“It is important that IEP Teams for ELs with disabilities include persons with expertise in second language acquisition and other professionals, such as speech-language pathologists, who understand how to differentiate between limited English proficiency and a disability. The participation of these individuals on the IEP Team is essential in order to develop appropriate academic and functional goals for the child and provide specially designed instruction and the necessary related services to meet these goals.”

Students who are English learners with learning disabilities are eligible for exit from ESOL services when they demonstrate English language proficiency by achieving an overall composite proficiency level of 4.5 on ACCESS for ELLs (or level P2 on Alternate ACCESS, if applicable).

If you have questions, or would like further information regarding serving students who are English learners, please contact April Perkins, ESOL/Bilingual Programs, at april.perkins@maine.gov or (207)624-6627.

Virtual Workshop Series for New English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Teachers

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) invites teachers to participate in a series of virtual workshops on topics related to serving English learners and managing an English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program. While the sessions will be targeted to the needs of new ESOL teachers, all are welcome! More experienced ESOL teachers and others whose work relates to the topics listed will also find information of value and benefit from connecting with colleagues across Maine.

See the list of sessions below for dates and topics of focus each month. Each session will be held from 3:00-4:00pm. Participants should plan to attend all sessions in the series, to the extent possible. Contact hours will be available for participation in the sessions. Ideally participants, as a cohort of learners, will develop and sustain a professional connection beyond the monthly sessions.

Note that this series of workshops for new teachers will touch upon the 2020 Edition of the WIDA English Language Development (ELD) Standards Framework, but for those who are looking for in-depth work on the ELD Standards, please take advantage of the other professional learning opportunities centered around that topic.

The workshops will be facilitated by Robin Fleck, Maine DOE ESOL Consultant, and will feature guest speakers during some sessions. If you have any questions, contact Robin at robin.fleck@maine.gov.

Register HERE to receive the Zoom links.

Date Topics
Session 1 Monday, September 13, 2021
  • identifying English learners
  • reviewing state expectations
  • identifying available resources
  • working with classroom/content teachers
  • getting to know your students and families
  • working with newcomers
Session 2 Thursday, October 7, 2021
  • how to effectively use the LAC meeting/ILAP, how to manage parent conferences/communications
  • strategies for monitoring progress in and outside your classroom
  • and ordering ACCESS materials
Session 3 Monday, November 15, 2021
  • ACCESS testing and strategies to help prepare students to be comfortable during testing
Session 4 Thursday, January 13, 2022
  • ACCESS testing and responding to the needs of the group, with a focus on strategies and culturally responsive teaching
Session 5 Thursday, February 17, 2022
  • completing ACCESS testing
  • “It’s the middle of the year, what do I do now?”
Session 6 Thursday, April 7, 2022
  • wrapping up the school year
  • planning for next year
Session 7 Thursday, June 2, 2022
  • celebrating the accomplishments of the year and all that you have learned
  • addressing any questions
  • sharing what’s next