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English Learner Policy and Programs

Overview | Policy | Screening, Identification & Placement | Sample Parent Notification Letter | EL Program ModelsEL Instruction | EL Data Qlik App | Assessments | Language Access | Family & Community Engagement | Contact


The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) provides school leaders and teachers guidance around maintaining a language instruction educational program (LIEP) for English learners (ELs) that is rooted in federal and local regulations. This guidance, including administrative procedures and instruction, is available in the form of publications, professional development, and in-person technical assistance and programmatic support.


All staff, including principals, instructional leaders, teachers, and other school personnel, are responsible for ensuring that students learning English are supported in school. State and local education agencies (LEAs) have an obligation to ensure ELs both develop English language proficiency and meet the same challenging state academic standards as their native English-speaking peers. Refer to the policies and procedures document below for details:

Screening, Identification and Placement in English Learner Services

For all students who have enrolled in a DC school for the first time, schools must begin with administering the OSSE Home Language Survey, a questionnaire completed by parents of all students at the time of enrollment. The OSSE Home Language Survey does not need to be administered to a student who is re-enrolling in a DC school.

If the OSSE Home Language Survey indicates that a language other than English is spoken in the home to or by the student, the student must be screened for possible identification as an EL using the appropriate screener within 30 school days of the student’s first official school day (also known as stage 5 enrollment). A student shall not be identified as an EL student only based on OSSE Home Language Survey indicating a language other than English is spoken in the home or routinely used in other settings. The list of appropriate screeners can be found in the links below.

Sample Parent Notification Letter Templates

Within 30 days of stage five enrollment at the start of the school year, or within two weeks of placement if not identified at the beginning of school, LEAs must notify parents of ELs that their child was identified as needing EL services. This must be done in an understandable and uniform format, and to the extent practicable, it is strongly recommended to translate the parent notification letter into a language that parents can understand. LEAs should develop a procedure for tracking the issuance of parent notification letters and for documenting parental consent for services. The sample templates below are resources to help LEAs provide parent notification letters that meet the necessary requirements.

English Learner Program Models

Under federal law, EL programs must be: (1) based on a sound educational theory; (2) adequately supported so that the program has a realistic chance of success; and (3) periodically evaluated and revised, if necessary. In the District of Columbia, five EL program models are commonly used, each of which is considered effective by experts in the field. These models have been designed to meet the varying needs and grade levels of students across English proficiency levels.

English Learner Instruction

Visit the OSSE pages below for resources on instructional practices and to register for professional learning from OSSE.

Using the Early Access to EL Data Qlik Application

OSSE’s data visualization application in Qlik Sense provides timely and appropriate data to help LEAs plan and prepare to meet the needs of EL students, which include current students for the current school year and students who are pre-enrolled in the LEA for the upcoming school year.


ACCESS for ELLs is the summative English language proficiency test taken annually by students who are ELs. To exit an LEA’s EL program, EL students in grades K-12 must meet the exit criteria set by the state.

For information on EL accommodations on state assessments, please contact Asaad Fulton at [email protected].

Inclusion Guidelines for ELs

Language Access

Family and Community Engagement


For more information or questions, please contact Lucia Cuomo, manager, language acquisition programs, at L[email protected].