Newcomers & SLIFE

Maine Department of Education Defines Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE)

The Office of English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Programs and Bilingual Programs has released a state definition of a Student with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE). This is a student who meets the following criteria:

  1. Is a multilingual learner;
  2. Has an English language proficiency level (as measured by WIDA assessments) of level 2.0 or below for students in grades 2-3 or level 2.5 or below for students in grades 4-12;
  3. Is at least eight years old; and
  4. Has experienced at least one of the following:
    1. No formal schooling
    2. Interruptions in formal schooling (defined as two or more re-enrollments or two years or more less schooling than typical peers)
    3. Consistent but limited formal schooling outside the United States; and/or
    4. Functions at two or more years below expected grade level in native language literacy and/or math skills relative to typical peers

For a printable, quick-reference guide click here.

For the past two and a half years, members of the Maine Department of Education (DOE), the Multilingual Learner Advisory Committee (MLAC), Support Ed, and Agora Learning, have been developing this definition to be specific and easily applied and understood.

Support Ed provided four webinars on SLIFE characteristics and general needs, resources and strategies for serving SLIFE, graduation and post-secondary education guidance and opportunities, and a wealth of resources for educators to refer to. Check out the archived recordings & webinars

A padlet of SLIFE resources can be found here:

Agora Learning and Support Ed are continuing their work to develop a SLIFE screener to be used by our Maine school districts. Maine DOE will be developing a SLIFE guidance manual and additional professional learning opportunities that will support districts to identify SLIFE and develop SLIFE programming.

If you have questions regarding the Maine DOE SLIFE definition, please contact:

Jane Armstrong, ESOL State Specialist at


Maine DOE Resources & Trainings






Maine Educational Disruption Diploma 

Federal Guidance

Newcomer Tool Kit: US Department of Education, 2016

Welcoming, Registering, and Supporting Newcomer Students: A Toolkit for Educators of Immigrant and Refugee Students in Secondary Schools: Institute of Educational Sciences, 2021

Other Resources