Toward a “Common Definition of English Learner”

Currently, states and local school districts determine their approach to identifying and classifying students as English learners (ELs). But with 45 states signing onto the Common Core State Standards, there is a need to move toward “a common definition of English Learner.” In August, the Council of Chief State School Officers released recommendations to move towards uniformity. Their guidance addresses four areas:

  1. Identification of potential ELs through Home Language Surveys
  2. Establishing initial EL classification (confirm or disconfirm a student as an EL)
  3. Defining the “English proficient” performance standard (performance level definitions such as Beginning, Expanding, Intermediate, and Advanced)
  4. Reclassifying ELs and determining exit criteria

The organizing framework will establish common ground amongst states and support this growing population of students.