BOX 1-1

Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Student: Definition

An LEP student is classified as one: (A.) who is aged 3 through 21; (B.) who is enrolled or preparing to enroll in an elementary school or secondary school; (C.) (i.) who was not born in the United States or whose native language is a language other than English; and who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant OR (ii.) (I.) who is a Native American or Alaska Native, or a native resident of outlying areas; and (II.) who comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on the individual’s level of English language proficiency; OR (iii.) who is migratory, whose native language is a language other than English, and who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant; AND (D.) whose difficulties speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language may be sufficient to deny the individual — (i.) the ability to meet the State’s proficient level of achievement on State assessments described in section 1111(b)(3); (ii.) the ability to achieve successfully in classrooms where the language of instruction is English; or (iii.) the opportunity to participate fully in society.


SOURCE: P.L. 107-110, Title IX, Part A, Sec. 9101 (25).

is English and to participate fully in society. As discussed below and in Chapter 2 in more depth, this complex definition poses significant problems in measuring the population.

The goals set by the NCLB were designed to ensure that LEP students and immigrant children and youths attain English language proficiency (ELP), and further, that they develop high levels of academic attainment in English and meet the same state academic content and student academic achievement standards as other children (Section 3102(1)). In requiring that all children, including English language learners, reach high standards by demonstrating proficiency in English language arts by 2014, the law challenged the states to develop an integrated system of ELP standards, assessments, and objectives that are linked to states’ academic content and student achievement standards set in accordance with other parts of the ESEA.

The part of the legislation that has most changed the landscape is the language that makes it clear that states, districts, schools, and teachers must not only teach ELL students to speak, read, and write English, but they must also hold them to the same high academic standards as all other students. The goal is for all ELL students to demonstrate proficiency in English language arts and mathematics by 2014. Under the ESEA, states now must annually assess ELL students’ progress in becoming English language proficient, and they must include these students in annual assessments in all content areas. The states are being held accountable for demonstrating that ELL students are making progress in learning academic subjects. According to



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