We are all aware of the requirements to provide adaptations and accommodations to Special Education students as indicated by the students’ IEPs. As ESL is a language barrier and not a special education issue, less than 12% of English language learners (ELLs) have an IEP. Nevertheless, teachers must make accommodations and adaptations for all ELLs in the content area classroom according to the ELL’s proficiency level.
As stated in Pennsylvania Department of Education’s A Guidebook to Planning Programs for English Language Learners, page 30: “ In order to achieve academic standards, students must be scheduled in content area classes with the understanding that they may be not able to comprehend all the instruction. These needs must be addressed by the content area teachers…”
Therefore, for example, content area teachers who teach social studies, math, science, and other content related subjects must take into consideration the ELL’s needs and adapt the classroom tests, activities, quizzes, and homework. This can be a daunting task, but just as teachers have to make accommodations and adaptations for special education students, they have to do the same for ELLs.
PDE has developed a tool that content area teachers and other teachers can use to assist them in making accommodations and adaptations for ELLs in the classroom. The document, Language Proficiency Standards for English Language Learners in grades PreK-12, is available online at http://www.pde.state.pa.us/esl/lib/esl/Standards_Document_%28June_2007%29.doc.