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English Learners: Eligibility, Guidance, and Laws

​Language Instruction for English Learners and Immigrant Students

Title III of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 provides Federal financial support to state and local educational agencies to supplement English language development (ELD) programs in order to ensure that all English Learners, including immigrant children and youth, attain English proficiency and develop high levels of academic language achievement in English, and achieve at high levels in academic subjects so that all English learners (ELs) can meet the same challenging academic standards that all children are expected to meet.

To comply with these requirements, the English LearnerS/Title III office of the Maryland State Department of Education works with local school systems to ensure that quality, research-based English language development programs are offered to English learners.


Identification of English Learners

Local school systems are required to ask the parents of every student upon enrollment if a language other than English is spoken using a Home Language Survey (HLS) to identify potential ELs. An EL is a student who may have been born outside of the U.S.:

  • who communicates in a language other than English; or
  • whose family uses a primary language other than English in the home; and
  • whose English language proficiency falls within the range established by the State for an English language development program.

Home Language Survey

Note: Having another language spoken in the home or routinely used in other settings on its own is not an adequate basis for identifying a student as an EL. Code of Maryalnd Regulations (COMAR) provides the criteria of the HLS and defines them for EL identification:

A student’s eligibility for services is based on the English Language Proficiency (ELP) placement test. Each local school system must inform parents of an EL identified for participation in the local school system’s English language development program:

  • No later than 30 days after the beginning of the school year for students who enter at the start of the school year.
  • Within the first two weeks of a student being placed in such a program if the student was not identified as an EL prior to the beginning of the school year.

Parent Notification Letter

The parent notification letter must be sent to parents/guardians annually for new and continuing ELs who participate in English language development programs, including ELs for whom services have been refused.

Additionally, the Refusal of Placement in ESOL Program Letter must be sent annually to parents and guardians who indicate that they do not wish their child to participate in the ESOL program.

Title III Monitoring Visit

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 Title III, Part A requires the state educational agency (SEA) to monitor the implementation of English language development program requirements and the expenditure of federal funds. The MSDE English Learners/Title III Office provides ongoing technical assistance to local school systems to improve the quality of the programs and also conduct a formal monitoring visit at least every three years.

Reclassified English Learners

ELs who no longer require Title III services and who are exited from English language development services are monitored for two years to ensure that these students continue to make progress in meeting challenging State academic content and student academic achievement standards for each of the two years after such children are no longer receiving services.