The population of English learners (ELs) in K-12 schools continues to grow. Between the 2009-10 and 2014-15 school years, the percentage of English learners increased in over half of the states, and in 2017, English learners made up 10.1% of the total student population. Research suggests that in their transition to English, non-native speakers fall behind academically, which can intensify the longer a student remains in an English learner program. State education leaders are mindful of this and have implemented policies to identify, serve and reclassify English learners as they become proficient.
This resource provides a national comparison of EL policies in all states. Unless otherwise noted, all information in this resource was gathered from state statutes or regulations and does not include policies in state-level guidance documents or arising from court orders.
Click on the metrics below for 50-State Comparisons showing how all states approach these policies. Or view a specific state’s approach by going to the individual state profiles page.
- To identify English learners, at least 21 states require the administration of a home language survey, while at least 27 states require the use of an English language proficiency screening assessment for students whose primary or home language is not English.
- At least 28 states provide for specific qualifications or pre-service and in-service training and professional development for general classroom teachers in statute or regulation.
- At least 39 states provide for training, professional development, teaching standards, certification or endorsements for EL-specific teachers in statute or regulation.
- At least 24 states explicitly require students to score proficiently on an English language proficiency exam to be reclassified as English proficient.
- Some states consider additional metrics, including academic performance, statewide assessments, and teacher observations and recommendations.
Click on the items below to see data for all states