What ELL training, if any, is required of general classroom teachers?

What ELL training, if any, is required of general classroom teachers?

November 2014

Research indicates that it is beneficial for ELLs if states require all general classroom teachers to have some form of ELL training, regardless of whether they work with ELLs or not. General classroom teachers help students gain proficiency in the essential areas of language proficiency: speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Over 30 states do not require ELL training for general classroom teachers beyond the federal requirements, although some states appear to require teacher-preparation programs to provide training in working with ELLs.

Unless otherwise noted, all information in this resource was gathered from state statutes only and does not include policies in state-level guidance documents or arising from court orders.

Where state statute does not specifically require general classroom teachers to have ELL training, other state documents may still impose training requirements. For example, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued a consent decree in 1990 that establishes the state’s framework for complying with state and federal ELL laws. Under this order, general classroom teachers with one or more English learner students in the classroom must receive ELL training.

What ELL training, if any, is required of general classroom teachers?
Federal Law School districts must provide research-based professional development to any teachers, administrators, and staff who work with ELLs. The training must focus on methods for working with ELLs and be long and enough and offered frequently enough to have a positive and lasting impact.
Alabama The Alabama Quality Teaching Standards require teachers to align their practice and professional learning with a number of standards including diversity standards. Among the key indicators of this standard are three language diversity indicators:
  • Knowledge of the process of English language acquisition and strategies to support the learning of students whose first language is not English.
  • Ability to differentiate between learner difficulties that are related to cognitive or skill development and those that relate to language learning.
  • Ability to collaborate with teachers of English language learners and to assist those students with full integration into the regular classroom.
Alaska None
Arizona All classroom teachers, supervisors, and administrators must have a bilingual, ESL, or structured English immersion endorsement. The structured English immersion endorsement may be obtained through semester hours and professional development hours. Bilingual and ESL endorsements are available only through semester hours. 
Arkansas None
All teachers with one or more ELLs in their classrooms must have an English learner certificate or authorization.
Colorado None
Connecticut None
Delaware None
Florida State-approved teacher preparation programs must include strategies appropriate for instructing ELLs. 
Georgia None
Hawaii None
Idaho None
Indiana Requirements for all teaching licenses include instruction on methods for teaching English as a new language. 
Iowa None
Kansas Governed by the department of education's ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Kentucky None
Louisiana None
Maine None
Maryland None
Teachers providing instruction in core academic subjects who provide sheltered English instruction (SEI) to ELLs must have an SEI endorsement. Any administrator supervising or evaluating a core academic teacher who is providing SEI instruction must have an SEI teacher or administrator endorsement or earn the endorsement within one year.
Michigan None
Missouri To receive a mainstream teaching license or a special education license, candidates must complete coursework and demonstrate competency in content planning and delivery for English language learners.
Montana None
Nebraska None
Nevada None. ELL training is not required for mainstream teachers but may be selected by a pre-service teacher as one of his/her course subjects, and a major or minor in ESL education is one of the allowable degrees required for a secondary teaching license. In addition, ELL training is required for teachers with a conditional teaching license in certain circumstances.
New Hampshire Most general classroom teachers are not required to have ELL training, with a few exceptions. Reading and writing teachers must have some training in teaching methods for developing literacy of ELLs. Early childhood teachers must have training in bilingualism and the needs of ELLs. Finally, English language arts teachers for grades 5 and higher must have some training in the nature and needs of students whose primary language is not English.
New Jersey Teacher preparation programs, school district evaluations, and professional development programs must align with standards that include strategies for making content accessible to English language learners and for evaluating and supporting their development of English proficiency.
New Mexico Candidates for the elementary (K-8) and secondary (7-12) education licenses must have knowledge of using strategies to facilitate language acquisition and development. Candidates for the elementary license must have the ability to develop appropriate responses to differences among language learners. In addition, candidates for the early childhood license (through grade 3) must demonstrate knowledge of second-language acquisition and bilingualism.

Districts must provide professional development to all administrators and teachers in the following areas: research-based bilingual/multicultural and/or language revitalization programs and implications for instruction, best practices of ESL instruction, English language development, and principles of language acquisition. School districts' professional development plans must also include the state's bilingual/multicultural education programs.
New York General classroom teachers must attend an approved preparation program that includes instruction on working effectively with students from homes where English is not spoken.

Starting in 2015-2016, school districts must provide professional development that address the needs of ELLs to all teachers and administrators. At least 15 percent of mainstream teachers' required professional development must focus on language acquisition, including co-teaching strategies and integrating language and content instruction for ELLs. At least 50 percent of professional development for bilingual and ESL teachers must be about language acquisition and best practices for co-teaching strategies and integrating language and content instruction for ELLs.
North Carolina None
North Dakota None
Ohio None
Oklahoma None
Oregon None. However, any school district offering ELL programs must give licensed education personnel an opportunity to obtain training as an ESL or bilingual teacher at no cost to the personnel.
Pennsylvania Teacher preparation programs must include coursework that addresses the needs of English language learners.
Rhode Island None
South Carolina None
South Dakota None
Tennessee None
During the five-year teaching license renewal period up to 25 percent of a teacher's continuing professional education activities must include instruction about educating diverse student populations, including students of limited English proficiency.
Utah None
Vermont None
Virginia Candidates for mainstream teaching licenses (early/primary, elementary, middle, and secondary) must have training in teaching methods for ELLs.

Teacher preparation programs in Virginia must require preservice teachers to demonstrate an ability to modify and manage learning environments and experiences to meet the individual needs of children with limited proficiency in English and children with diverse cultural needs.

Finally, during the license renewal process local school districts must provide teachers and administrators with training on working with ELLs.
Washington Teacher preparation programs in Washington must ensure that preservice teachers develop the following competencies to support English language development: theories of language acquisition, including academic language development; using multiple instruction strategies, including the principles of second language acquisition, to address student academic language ability levels and cultural and linguistic backgrounds; and student cultural identity.
West Virginia None
Wisconsin None
Wyoming None

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