SECTION 1. The nineteenth paragraph of section 1I of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by—
(a) striking out, in line 283, the word “and”; and
(b) inserting after subsection (j), the following subsections:-
“(k) any opportunities that the district makes available to English learners for instruction in maintaining or developing proficiency in their native language;
(l) a description of how the school district will evaluate the effectiveness of its English language learner programs in terms of helping such students attain English language proficiency and master academic standards, as well as measure students’ readiness to join mainstream classrooms, should they not already be placed in such classes, if the evaluations and measures are in addition to what the department requires, and a description of the steps that the school district will take to overcome any deficiencies encountered;
(m) a record of any instances in which parents decided to withdraw their child from, or refuse their child’s participation in, an English learner program and meetings with parents regarding a student who is not progressing;
(n) a description of the training that the district provided for all staff in working with culturally and linguistically diverse student populations; and
(o) documentation detailing English learners’ participation in the district’s regular and advanced educational programs and extracurricular activities.”.
SECTION 2. The fifth paragraph of section 59C of chapter 71 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the period, in line 50, the following sentences:-
“In school districts with English learners, the plan to improve student performance shall include a description of the educational program models and approaches to be provided by the school to ensure the progress of English learners in developing oral comprehension, speaking, reading and writing of English, and in meeting the academic standards of the curriculum frameworks established under sections 1D and 1E of chapter 69.”.
SECTION 3. Chapter 71A of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking sections 1 through 8 and inserting in place thereof the following:-
Section 1. Definitions. In this chapter—
(a) the term “department” means the Massachusetts department of elementary and secondary education;
(b) the term “language acquisition program” or “language instruction educational program” refers to an instructional program that includes English language acquisition for English learners as a component. Language acquisition programs are not limited to any single program design or pedagogical style;
(c) the term “English learner” (also called an “English language learner”) means a child who does not speak English or whose native language is not English, and who is not currently able to perform ordinary classroom work in English. ;
(d) Sheltered English Immersion.
(1) The term “sheltered English immersion” means a program composed of 2 instructional components:
(i) Sheltered content instruction that focuses on teaching academic content using English as the primary language of instruction.
(ii) English language development instruction that focuses on explicit and systematic English language instruction; and
(2) Sheltered English immersion may include use of the native language to support and scaffold the student’s learning;
(e) the term “English Language Development” (ELD) or “English as a second language” (ESL), means a specially designed course of study that focuses on the acquisition of the English language and is designed according to a student's English proficiency, performance and developmental level. It is a component of all comprehensive language acquisition programs, and explicit, systematic, developmental, proficiency-driven English language and literacy are the primary content;
(f) the term “dual language education”, (also called “two-way bilingual”) means any program that integrates language learning and academic instruction for native speakers of English and native speakers of another language, with the goals of high academic achievement, first and second academic language proficiency, and cross-cultural understanding;
(g) the term “transitional bilingual education” means an English learner program that follows a bilingual approach to learning in which the native language of the ELL is used to support and scaffold the student’s development of English and then gradually phase instruction in the native language out while delivering content instruction; and
(h) the term “foreign language” means a language other than English, and includes American Sign Language.
Section 2. Census. Local school districts shall annually ascertain, not earlier than the first day of April, under regulations prescribed by the department, the number of English learners within their school system in grades pre-Kindergarten through 12, and shall classify them according to grade level, the language of which they possess a primary speaking ability, and the English learner program type in which they are enrolled, with all such information being made publicly available by school and school district on a website. Districts shall also monitor students who have exited English learner programs when assessing the academic achievement of English learners and the effectiveness of language acquisition programs.
Section 3. English Language Education.
(a) English learners enrolled in a Massachusetts public school district or charter school shall be educated through a comprehensive, research-based instructional program that includes a content component to ensure appropriate acquisition of subject matter content and a language acquisition component to ensure appropriate acquisition of the English language. The programs for English learners may include sheltered English Immersion, dual language education or transitional bilingual education and shall not be limited to any specific program or instructional design; provided, however, that any such programs shall include the acquisition of the English language.
(b) Regulations. The department shall promulgate regulations—
(1) to allow districts to choose one or more programs that meet the requirements of this section based on best practices in the field, the linguistic and educational needs, and the demographic characteristics of their students. Districts may incorporate opportunities for students to develop and maintain native language proficiency as part of a formal or extracurricular academic program; and
(2) to ensure that English language learners receive English language development instruction at a level and frequency that is appropriate for their level of English language proficiency and educational needs and instructed by teacher holding an English as a second language license.
(c) Each school district shall employ at least 1 teacher licensed in English as a Second Language.
(d) Local schools may place English learners of different ages but whose degree of English proficiency is similar in the same classroom. Local schools shall be encouraged to mix together in the same classroom English learners from different native-language groups but with the same degree of English fluency.
(e) Exiting the English Language Learners Program.
(1) Once English learners acquire a good working knowledge of English and are able to do regular school work in English, they shall no longer be classified as English learners.
(2) Any student who has exited an English learner program and attained English proficiency, as determined by the department regulations and guidelines, shall have access to tutoring, English language development instruction or other instructional modifications as necessary in order to perform ordinary grade level classwork.
(f) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to modify, repeal, supersede, or otherwise affect Foreign language programs and special education programs for physically or mentally impaired students.
Section 4. Parental Choice.
(a) Parents or legal guardians of students who are deemed eligible to enroll in an English language learner program may select any available English language learner program offered within the district.
(b) Parents or legal guardians of students who are deemed eligible to enroll in an English language learner program may refuse to enroll their child, or remove their child from, any English language learner program; provided that written confirmation of any such request is retained in the student’s cumulative folder. The student shall continue to be designated as limited English proficient and retain the right to return to an English language learner program at any time.
(c) A school district may allow a nonresident English language learner to enroll in or attend its English language learner programs. The tuition for such student, which shall be established by the department, shall be paid by the school district in which the student resides. Any school district may join with any other school district or districts to provide English language learner programs required or permitted by this chapter.
(d) Twenty or more parents or legal guardians within a single district or charter school may request a specific program that is designed to provide language instruction. Within 90 days of such request, the school district shall respond and either provide the plan for implementation or provide written informed reason for denial.
(e) English Learner Parent Advisory Council.
(1) Any district operating a language acquisition program for English learners shall establish an English learner parent advisory council. The parent advisory council shall be comprised of parents or legal guardians of students who are enrolled in language acquisition programs within the district. Membership shall be restricted to parents or legal guardians of students enrolled in English learner programs, dual language programs or other language acquisition programs within the district.
(2) The duties of the parent advisory council shall include—
(i) advising the school on matters that pertain to the education of students in language acquisition programs;
(ii) meeting regularly with school officials to participate in the planning and development or programs designed to improve educational opportunities for English learners; and
(iii) participating in the review of school improvement plans established under section 59C of chapter 71, as they pertain to English learners.
(3) Any parent advisory council may, at its request, meet at least once annually with the school council. The parent advisory council shall establish by-laws regarding officers and operational procedures. In the course of its duties under this section, the parent advisory council shall receive assistance from the director of language acquisition programs for the district or other appropriate school personnel as designated by the superintendent.
Section 5. Legal Standing and Parental Enforcement.
(a) The department shall issue regulations regarding additional communication to parents of English learners in compliance with all state and federal requirements.
(b) Any such communication shall annually inform such parents or legal guardians of their rights to choose any language acquisition program among those that are offered at the school district, to request a new language acquisition program under section 4, or to withdraw their child from a particular language acquisition program.
(c) If a school district issues a recommendation to place an English learner in an language acquisition program, the parents or legal guardian of such student shall have the right, either at the time of the original notification, or at any point thereafter, to withdraw the student from such program by sending written notice of such decision by mail to the school authorities of the school district in which the student is enrolled.
Section 6. Monitoring Language Acquisition Programs.
(a) A nationally-normed test of English proficiency shall similarly be administered at least once each year to all Massachusetts schoolchildren in grades Kindergarten and higher who are English learners. English learners classified as severely learning disabled may be exempted from these tests. The particular tests to be used shall be selected by the Massachusetts board of elementary and secondary education, and the board may retain the same from year-to-year.
(b) Score Data.
(1) The national percentile scores of students shall be confidentially provided to individual parents.
(2) The Massachusetts board of elementary and secondary education shall make the following data publicly available on an internet website:
(i) The aggregated percentile scores and distributional data for individual schools and school districts.
(ii) The separately sub-aggregated scores for students classified as English learners and further sub-aggregated scores based on the English learner program type in which they are enrolled.
(3) The results of any such assessments shall be used as evidence of efficacy of programs. The results of any single annual assessment of English proficiency under this section are considered inappropriate for use in the evaluations of districts, schools or individual teachers.
(4) The district shall send report cards and progress reports including, but not limited to, progress in becoming proficient in using the English language and other school communications to the parents or legal guardians of students in the English learners programs in the same manner and frequency as report cards and progress reports to other students enrolled in the district. The reports shall, to the maximum extent possible, be written in a language understandable to the parents and legal guardians of such students.
Section 7. Evaluation of Programs. The department shall conduct on-site visits to school districts at least once every 3 years for the purposes of evaluating the effectiveness of programs serving English learners and to validate evidence of educational outcomes. The evaluation shall include a review of individual student records of all English learners, a review of the programs and services provided to English learners and a review of the dropout rate of English learners formerly enrolled in the district within the prior 3 years. The ELL/Bilingual Advisory Council established under section 1G of chapter 15 shall annually review the policies and procedures of on-site visits to schools districts.
Section 8. Community-based English Tutoring. In furtherance of its constitutional and legal obligation to provide all children with an adequate education, the Commonwealth shall encourage family members and others to provide personal English language tutoring to such children as are English learners, and support these efforts by raising the general level of English language knowledge in the community. Subject to appropriation by the general court, commencing with the fiscal year in which this initiative is enacted and for each of the 9 fiscal years following thereafter, a sum of $5,000,000 per year shall be spent for the purpose of providing funding for free or subsidized programs of adult English language instruction to parents or other members of the community who pledge to provide personal English language tutoring to Massachusetts school children who are English learners. Programs funded pursuant to this section shall be provided through schools or community organizations. Funding for these programs shall be administered by the department, and shall be disbursed at the discretion of the local school committees in each district, under reasonable guidelines established by, and subject to the review of, the Massachusetts board of elementary and secondary education.
SECTION 4. Chapter 71A of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by adding the following new sections:-
“Section 9. Educator Certification and Endorsement.
All teachers and administrators assigned to language acquisition programs shall hold the appropriate educator licensure and endorsements for the program type.
The department shall promulgate regulations creating a pathway to for endorsement of educators who have completed coursework and field-based experiences in providing instruction within dual-language programs.
The department shall promulgate regulations creating a Language Acquisition Program administrator licensure pathway. Educators qualifying for such licensure shall have demonstrated experience working in language acquisition programs, experience engaging parents and guardians from diverse backgrounds, graduate level coursework in education administration and field-based experiences in meeting local, state and federal requirements for language acquisition programs.
Section 10. Language Acquisition Program Administrator.
(a) A school district with 200 students who are designated as English learners shall appoint a person to be its administrator of language acquisition programs. Such administrator shall devote full time to the duties involved in supervising the provision of all language acquisition programs in the school system.
(b) A school committee with fewer than 200 students designated as English learners shall appoint a person to be its administrator of language acquisition programs. Such administrator shall have the duties involved in supervising the provision of all language acquisition programs in the school system for not less than 25 percent of the duties assigned to such a positions.
(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b), the school committee of any city, town, or school district may, to meet its obligations under this section, with the approval of the department, enter into an agreement with any other school committee to jointly appoint an administrator of English language learners.
SECTION 5. State Seal of Biliteracy.
(a) Chapter 69 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 1P the following section:-
“Section 1Q. State Seal of Biliteracy.
(a) The commissioner shall develop criteria and guidelines for a state seal of biliteracy to be awarded by school districts to recognize high school graduates who have met academic benchmarks determined by the department in 1 or more languages in addition to English.
The department shall develop an insignia to be affixed to the diploma or transcript of a student who has been awarded a state seal of biliteracy and make the insignia available to school districts in an electronic format for the preparation of diplomas. A school district that chooses to award the state seal of biliteracy to qualifying students pursuant to this section shall maintain appropriate records to identify students who have earned a state seal of biliteracy and to affix the appropriate insignia to the diplomas or transcripts of those students.
(b) The department of elementary and secondary education shall consider the recommendations of the language opportunity coalition in developing the guidelines for the state seal of biliteracy pursuant to section 1Q of chapter 69 of the General Laws.”.
SECTION 6. Effective Date. This Act shall take effect on the first school year after the enactment of this Act.
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