Enrollment and Identification of English Language Learners

Home Language Survey
All students seeking first time enrollment in a school shall be given a home language survey in according with requirements of the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. Enrollment of the student may not be delayed in order to administer the Home Language Survey.

The Home Language Survey is completed by/for every family upon registering in the school district. The district Registrar will notify the ESL program staff and building secretary at the student’s school of the date the student will begin school and forward the copy of the Home Language Survey and the Registration Form to the ESL staff there.

If the Home Language Survey indicates that the student’s primary language is other than English and a language other than English is spoken in the student’s home, students must be assessed for potential placement in a program unless they meet two of the following three criteria to be exempted from a formal English Language Proficiency (ELP) assessment as outlined below. 

  • Final grades of B or better in core subject areas (Mathematics, Language Arts, Science and Social Studies);
  • Scores on district-wide assessments that are comparable to the Basic performance level on the PSSA;
  • Scores of Basic in Reading, Writing and Math on the PSSA or an equivalent assessment from another state.

Newly enrolling students without academic records must be assessed for their ELP.

  • The district will use the WIDA ACCESS PLACEMENT TEST (W- APT), which is aligned to the required annual State ELP assessment, ACCESS for ELLs, to assess students for placement in language instructional programs for ELLs.
  • The W- APT results are one of the indicators for placement in ESL programs and must be used in combination with multiple criteria, if available, to determine placement in an ESL program.
  • The instructional placement of ELLs will be age and grade appropriate. Additionally, ELLs will be given equal access to all educational programs, opportunities, and extra-curricular activities in the same manner as for all students.
  • Parent permission to assess IS NOT REQUIRED.
  • Parent notification of student assessment results and placement in an ESL is required.

Special Cases
Foreign Exchange Students
Foreign exchange students come to our country to experience the American culture and at the same time provide our students with the opportunity to learn from other cultures. The Pennsylvania Department of Education supports the educational and cultural values of these programs and encourages local education agencies (LEAs) to participate and support these cultural enriching programs. Foreign exchange students are not required to:

  • Be identified for English as a second language instruction based on Pennsylvania’s home language survey
  • Be assessed for placement in English language instructional programs
  • Participate in the annual state English language proficiency assessment

However, foreign exchange students are required to participate in the PSSA, and their results are attributed to the host family’s district of residence and to the state.

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