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Home > Rules & Legislation > Letters from the Commissioner > Informational Letters > Letter 56




TO:                Superintendents

FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

DATE:             December 20, 2006

RE:                 ESL Endorsed Teacher Requirement

In response to several inquiries, the purpose of this letter is to clarify the differences between being certified to administer the ACCESS for ELLs® and being an English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsed teacher.

There are several states that require that only ESL endorsed teachers administer the ACCESS for ELLs®.  However, Maine is currently experiencing and has experienced a shortage of ESL endorsed teachers.  It is because of the ESL endorsed teacher shortage and the hardship this causes to school administrative units when administering the required ACCESS for ELLs® that the current state policy is to allow educators other than ESL endorsed teachers to administer the ACCESS for ELLs®, so long as those educators are trained and certified to administer the ACCESS for ELLs®.

However, the allowance of educators other than ESL endorsed teachers to administer the ACCESS for ELLs® must not be interpreted to mean that educators other than ESL endorsed teachers are also allowed to develop or be responsible for the development, oversight and administration of an ESL program for any English language learner.  An ESL endorsed teacher is able to review the results of a student’s ACCESS for ELLs® and design a specific ESL program for that individual ESL student.  An ESL endorsed teacher can do this because of the specific courses and training required in order to become an ESL endorsed teacher.  Designing an ESL program is not addressed through the ACCESS for ELLs® test administration training, which only addresses the administration of that specific English language assessment, and not the designing of an ESL program.

Federal law requires all English language learners’ education to be designed, overseen and implemented by an ESL endorsed teacher.  Only an ESL endorsed teacher meets the legal requirement of providing ESL services to an English language learner. 

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 remains the foundation of the legal rights of a Limited English Proficient (LEP) student.

“No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”  (42 U.S.C. 2000d)

This has been interpreted by courts as requiring a qualified ESL teacher be provided to LEP students to ensure they are not excluded from participation in meaningful education.

In addition, an Office of Civil Rights Memorandum of 1991 requires a qualified ESL endorsed teacher for LEP students, in order that they are not relegated to second-class status by allowing a teacher without formal qualifications to teach them while requiring teachers of non-LEP students to meet formal qualifications (See 34 Code of Federal Regulations C.F.R. Section 100.3 (b)(ii)).

If you have any further questions regarding this matter, please contact:

Nancy Mullins, Director of ESL/Bilingual Programs         207-624-6788