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OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

Education System

English for Speakers of Other Languages

What is the purpose of the ESOL program?

The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program assists schools and school districts in ensuring that students with limited proficiency in the English language receive understandable instruction.  The program provides English language instruction in basic subject areas.

What does the term English language learner mean?

Several characteristics may result in a student being identified as an English language learner, including

  • a student who was not born in the U.S. and whose native language is something other than English;
  • a student who speaks a language other than English at home; or
  • a student who is an American Indian or Alaskan Native and comes from a home in which a language other than English has had a significant impact on the student's level of English language proficiency; and
  • a student who, as a result of the above, has sufficient difficulty speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language to deny the student the opportunity to learn successfully in classrooms in which the language of instruction is English.

State Board of Education rules require that school districts have a process for surveying students, upon their enrollment in Florida public schools, to determine if they are English language learners. If survey results show that a student is an English language learner, the school then assesses the student to determine if he or she needs ESOL services. Within 30 days after the beginning of the school year, each school or school district is required to provide notice to parents of an English language learner identified for participation in a language instruction education program. 

In the 2019-20 school year, there were 288,624 English language learners in Florida.  

How is English language proficiency assessed?

Florida administers the Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners 2.0 (ACCESS for ELLs 2.0) assessments to measure students' English language proficiency.  The assessments measure four language proficiency skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is based on the English Language Development Standards. Students taking these assessments are considered English language proficient if they achieve a composite score of 4.0 or greater and at least 4.0 in the domain of reading.

What ESOL services do school districts provide for English language learners?

School districts must provide English language learners access to instructional services in two areas.
  • Basic ESOL instruction, which includes instruction to develop sufficient skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing English to enable the student to be English proficient.
  • ESOL instructional and/or home language instructional strategies in basic subject areas. School districts that provide instruction through ESOL instructional strategies must ensure that each course has been structured in conformity with ESOL strategies for teaching English language learners in basic subject matter. School districts that choose to provide instructional services through home language instruction must ensure that English language learners' courses have been structured in conformity with bilingual strategies for teaching English Language Learners basic subject matter. School districts must be able to document that these services are delivered by qualified personnel and that instructional materials are available to such personnel.
These instructional services must be documented in an English Language Learner Student Plan.

What accommodations are provided to English language learners on statewide assessments?

State Board of Education Rule 6A-6.09091, Florida Administrative Code, specifies the allowable accommodations for English language learners on statewide assessments. The allowable accommodations include
  • flexible setting, allowing English language learners the opportunity to be tested in a separate room with an ESOL or heritage language teacher serving as test administrator;
  • flexible scheduling, allowing for English language learners to take a test session during brief periods within one school day;
  • limited assistance from an ESOL or heritage language teacher using the student's heritage language for directions, prompts, and answer choices; and
  • access to an approved English-to-heritage language/heritage language-to-English dictionary or glossary containing only word-to-word translations.
School district personnel are required to implement these accommodations in a manner that ensures that the test responses are the independent work of the student and are prohibited from assisting a student in determining how the student will respond or directing or leading the student to a particular response.

How do English language learners exit the ESOL Program?

The State Board of Education requires that English language learners receive appropriate instruction until a student is reclassified as English proficient and exits from the ESOL program. English proficiency is determined by the statewide English Language Proficiency Assessment and the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) in English Language Arts. An English language learner in grades 3 to 12 is determined English language proficient and exited from the ESOL program upon obtaining
  • scores of proficient at the applicable grade level on each statewide English Language Proficiency Assessment subtest; and
  • a passing score on the FSA in English Language Arts for students in grades 3 to 9, or a score on the 10th grade FSA in English Language Arts sufficient to meet applicable graduation requirements for students in grades 10 to 12.
For students in kindergarten through grade 2, there is no statewide FSA in English Language Arts requirement, and a proficient score on the English Language Proficiency Assessment is sufficient for exiting the ESOL program.

How are these activities funded?

School districts receive funding for ESOL programs from federal, state, and local sources. Funding through the Florida Educational Finance Program (FEFP) for the ESOL Program is allocated by multiplying the ESOL cost factor, established each year by the Legislature, by the number of full-time equivalent students in the program.  A student can be reported for funding for a base period of three years; however, a student whose English competency does not meet the criteria for proficiency after three years in the ESOL program may be reported for a fourth, fifth, and sixth year of funding, provided that his or her limited English proficiency is assessed and properly documented prior to his or her enrollment in each additional year beyond the three-year base period.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website.

Where can I get more information?

What are the applicable statutes?

Section 1003.56 and 1011.62, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Chane Eplin, Bureau Chief, Bureau of Student Achievement through Language Acquisition, 850-245-0417, email:  SALA@fldoe.org