Linguistically Diverse Learner Laws

Laws Governing Linguistically Diverse Learners
By Lisa R. Wolf
“Every child in America deserves a world-class education.” President Barack Obama
In addition, I believe that every teacher and every family deserves to be informed of educational law,
accountability, & their rights. So what laws impact our English language learning students? What do we
need to know about linguistically diverse students as their classroom teachers?
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
 Prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin
 Allows all people to receive Federal Financial Assistance.
 From the parent’s point of view, parents need to know that ALL children can be included in any
activities and receive Federal money
Office of Civil Rights May 25, 1970 - Memorandum
 School districts required to rectify language deficiency
 ESL students cannot be put in special education classes based on criteria which essentially
measures or evaluates English language skills.
 ESL parents need to be notified about school information and activities
 Notices in parent’s home language
 ESL student must be exited from ESL program when they reach the required level.
Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974
 No state can deny any children’s opportunities to participate in the educational program.
Lau v. Nichols - 1974
 Schools have to provide meaningful education
 Schools must provide Basic English instruction.
 ELLs will receive the same benefits
This legislation was pivotal in requiring schools to not only provide the same text books and curriculum
for both groups: English language learners and native speakers of English, but demanded a further step
of requiring that language learners could access that curriculum.
Lau Remedies - 1975
 Identify & evaluate student English skills
 Provide instructional treatment so students can learn English
 Move ELLs to mainstream classrooms as soon as possible
Federally, teachers were to be prepared for ELL students. Reflect on how much preparation you
received to instruct English language learners. Do you know what to do for your English language
learning students? Do you collaborate with the ESL teacher or coach in your building to plan for all
English language learners in your classroom?
Castaneda v. Packard 1981
 Theory: schools need research based programs for ELLs
 Practice: schools required to take action
 Results: schools need time
 to use the program
 evaluate the results
 change the program if not working
Plyler v. Doe: Right to Attend Free Public School - 1982
 Undocumented children and young adults have the same right to attend schools as U.S
citizens or permanent residents
Plyler Supreme Court Ruling states public schools may NOT:
 Deny admission on basis of undocumented status
 Treat student disparately to determine status
 “Chill” the right of access to school
 Require disclosure of status
 Make inquiries regarding status
 Require social security cards
 School should assign student a number
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Accountability & Choice
 Title I – Adequate yearly progress
 Title II –Teacher Quality
 Title III—language instruction for limited English proficient & immigrant students
 Title IV – 21st Century schools
Colorado Uses:
• World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) assessment (Access) adopted 2012
• WIDA standards adopted in 2010
• WIDA information at
English language learners are the fastest growing population of students in American schools.
Nationally in 2009, English language learner 4th graders who took the National Assessment of
Educational Progress (NAEP) scored only 12% at or above proficient compared with 42% of native
English speakers. Research has shown that professional development to promote teacher effectiveness
in working with English language learners to have the strongest influence in student outcomes.
More information: