Education Dept. Issues Guidance to Boost Academic Achievement of 'English Learners'

By Susan Jones | September 23, 2016 | 11:33 AM EDT

(AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - In the last several decades, English learners have been among the fastest-growing populations in America's schools, now comprising nearly 10 percent of the student population nationwide, according the Education Department.

On Friday, the Education Department released non-regulatory "guidance" to help states, districts and schools "provide effective services to improve the English language proficiency and academic achievement" of those 4.8 million English learners.

“In too many places across the country, English learners get less access to quality teachers, less access to advanced coursework, and less access to the resources they need to succeed," Education Secretary John King Jr. said in a news release. "Together, we can change that reality."

King said that under the "Every Student Succeeds Act," the Education Department aims to "give students the gift of bilingualism and of multilingualism so they are prepared for college and career with a better sense of themselves, their community, their future, and a better appreciation for our diversity as a country.”

The new guidance promotes "effective, research-based language instruction programs" for the diverse English-learner (EL) population, which includes "recently arrived" ELs, long-term ELs and ELs with disabilities.

This guidance explains in detail how Title III funds may be used to provide supplemental services that improve English proficiency and academic achievement of English learners. Those funds may also be used to "increase the knowledge and skills of teachers who serve ELs."

The Education Department notes that all services provided to ELs using Title III funds must supplement, and not supplant, the services that must be provided to ELs under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, and other state or local laws.

"The Department hopes that this guidance will strengthen State and local efforts to improve educational outcomes for ELs and immigrant children and youth; connect States, (local education agencies) and schools with promising practices and helpful resources; and promote effective LIEPs (Language Instruction Educational Plan) for all ELs."