English as a Second Language

Grade Retentions

According to the Office of Civil Rights, “it is their policy to find a violation of the Regulation Implementing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 if LEP students are retained in grade for failure to demonstrate basic skills in English.”  Refer to, Lau v. Nichols 1970 for further information.

What should teachers consider before making the recommendation to retain a limited English proficient (LEP) student?

  • Years of Schooling – How many years of schooling has the LEP student had in the US?  How many years of schooling has the LEP student had in his/her native country?  (Information regarding an LEP student’s background is available on the Parent Interview placed in the student’s cumulative folder.)  Has there been interrupted schooling (e.g. due to war; migrant work)?
  • Language Proficiency – Do you know your LEP student’s W-APT scores?  These scores are available in your LEP student’s cumulative folder. Have you consulted with the ESL teacher to find out if the student is making progress in language?  Has the student progressed at least one proficiency level in at least one domain (listening, speaking, reading, and/or writing) on the annual ACCESS language proficiency test?
  • Student’s Stage of Language Acquisition – Pre-production; Early Production; Speech Emergence; Intermediate Fluency.  Refer to the ESL Teacher’s Guide placed in the schools’media centers.  Refer to the English Language Learners’ (ELLs) reading supplement to the Houghton Mifflin series and the MacMillan/McGraw-Hill Math ESL Activity Guide adopted by the Cumberland County Schools at the elementary levels.  Also, refer to Myths and Realities: Best Practices for Language Minority Students.  This resource is also in school media centers.
  • Cultural Factors – Foreign languages sometimes have a different alphabet, different sound system, and different reading and writing system.  LEP students also arrive with different background experiences and different educational experiences.  Has the LEP student been given enough time to adjust to a new learning environment?  Refer to Teaching to Diversity: Teaching and Learning in the Multi-Ethnic Classroom.  This resource is in school media centers.
  • LEP Student’s Developmental Stage – Be careful that immaturity is not due to cultural factors.  What is considered to be immature behavior in the US may be considered socially acceptable behavior in another country.  Make sure to consult with parents.  Refer to Teaching to Diversity: Teaching and Learning in the Multi-Ethnic Classroom.  This resource has been placed in school media centers.
  • Differentiated Instruction – Has differentiation in instruction taken place in the classroom?  Are teachers aware of the WIDA Standards available online at www.wida.us?  These standards are a framework to help teachers plan lessons that are appropriate for LEP students in social language, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.  Has the LEP student been given sufficient time to process information and acquire a new language?   How has the student’s progress or lack of progress been documented by content area teachers, resource teachers (e.g. EC, reading resource, math resource), and ESL teachers?  Does the LEP student’s portfolio show progress or lack of progress?  Has the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) trained teacher at your school provided suggestions on how to work with LEP students in mainstream classrooms?  (Only some schools have SIOP trained teachers at this time.)  Have the resource materials for English language learners (ELLs) provided by the ESL Department with hundreds of suggestions/ideas/strategies on how to work with LEP students from school media centers been accessed by the teacher?
  • Interventions – What interventions have taken place?  (e.g. tutoring; after-school enrichment; parent volunteers; computer programs; etc.)  Portfolios and documentation of interventions are very instrumental in determining whether or not an LEP student is showing progress or lack of progress.  Differentiated instruction is also an essential component of the Cumberland County Schools’ Creating Great Classrooms professional development.  It needs to be taking place in all classrooms and in all subject areas.  Refer to Fifty Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners, 99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with the SIOP Model, and 102 Content Strategies for English Language Learners.  These resources are available in the school media centers.
  • Portfolios – What alternative assessments, activities, and daily assignments has the LEP student received to show daily/weekly progress/growth?  Refer to Authentic Assessment for English Language Learners and the “Differentiation Strategies for Limited English Proficient (LEP) Students” checklist.  Both provide teachers with effective strategies and practical approaches for assessing LEP students in all four language domains (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) and in the content areas.  The book has been placed in the school Media Centers and the checklist has been disseminated to principals and teachers via email.
  • Parent Involvement – How often have parents been consulted regarding their child’s progress or lack of progress?  Are they aware of their legal rights?  Do they understand how our educational system works?  What suggestions and support have been given to parents on how to help their child at home?
Published by Nydzia Smith on April 20, 2020

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