Grade Retention

  • According to the Office of Civil Right, "It is their policy to find a violation of the Regulation Implementing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 if ELs 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 recommendations to retain a limited English proficient (EL) student?

    • Years of Schooling - How many years of schooling has the EL Student has in the US?  How many years of schooling has the EL student had in hi/her native country?  Has there ever been interrupted schooling (e.g... due toward; migrant work)?
    • Language Proficiency - Do you know your EL student W-APT scores?  These scores are available in your ELs 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 English Language Learner's (ELs) reading supplement to the Houghton Mifflin series and the MacMillan/McGraw-Hill Math EL 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.  EL students also arrive with different background experiences and different educational experiences.  Has the EL 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 your school media center.
    • EL 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 your school media center.
    • Differentiated Instruction - Has differentiation in instruction taken place in the classroom?  Are teachers aware of the WIDA Standards available online at  These standards are framework to help teachers plan lessons that are appropriate for EL students in social language, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.  Has the EL students 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 EL 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 EL students in mainstream classroom?  (only some schools have SIOP trained teachers at this time.)  Have the resource materials for English language learners (ELs) provided by the ESL Department with hundreds of suggestion/ideas/strategies on how to work with EL students from school media centers have been accessed by the teacher?
    • Interventions - What interventions have taken place?  (e.g.. tutoring; after-school enrichment; parent volunteers; computer programs; etc.)  Portfolios and documentations of interventions are very instrumental in determining whether or not an EL student is showing progress or lack of progress.  Differentiated Instruction is also an essential component to the Cumberland County Schools' Creating Great Classroom 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 EL 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 the assessing EL students in all four language domain (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 right?  Do they understand how our education system works?  What suggestions and support have been given to parents on how to help their child at home.

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  • English as a Second Language
    310 Hillsboro St.
    Fayetteville, NC  28301
    Phone: 910-484-1176
    Fax:  910-483-6865 

    Deborah Wilkes
    ESL Coordinator