English Learners

Under Minnesota and US law, all English Learners (EL) have equal rights and access to a high-quality education. 
Eligibility for English Learner Services

Students are eligible for English Learner programs and services if:

  1. The student has a home language other than English; and,
  2. Based on language tests, teacher recommendations and parent input about language skills, the student shows a need for English Learner instruction to gain skills in listening, speaking, reading, or writing academic English, the language needed for success in school.
The home language background involves looking at what language your child first learned, what language your child usually speaks, and what language is usually used in the home.  Districts and charter schools must determine the primary home language of ALL students. In order to do this, districts and charter schools use a home language questionnaire (HLQ ). Click here to see a sample home language questionnaire.

Identifying the home language is the first step in determining whether a student is eligible for English Learner programs. Districts and charter schools must also assess the English language level of your child using a placement test or screener. Other factors may also be considered during placement such as academic achievement, or parent input. 
Parental Rights
The law requires that parents must be notified when a child is identified and placed in an English language development program. Parents have the option to decline the English learner services. The notification should describe the program. Parents also have a right to visit the English language development classroom.
Title III Districts and Charter Schools
Districts and charter schools that receive Title III funding from the federal government are required to notify parents every year that their child receives English Learner services. All parents have the option of declining English Learner programs.
Role of The Minnesota Department of Education
MDE works to ensure that students learning English have equal rights and access to a high-quality education. MDE supports school districts and charter schools to offer research-based programs to help English Learners become proficient in English and to meet Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies learning standards. MDE offers professional development and support opportunities for educators to learn about teaching students who are English Learners. MDE also ensures that districts and charter schools receive and use funding from the state and federal government along with district funds to support programs and services for English Learners, and help schools assess English Learners to measure progress.