Florida: ELL Resources

As of the 2012-13 school year, Florida's schools were home to more than 277,000 English language learners (ELLs), which marks a 36% increase from the 2002-2003 school year (Migration Policy Institute, 2015). Currently, the most common five languages spoken by ELLs in Florida are Spanish, Haitian, Portuguese, Arabic, and Vietnamese.

Florida is a member of WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment). WIDA is a consortium of states dedicated to the design and implementation of high standards and equitable educational opportunities for English language learners which offers states programming for identifying and annually assessing the English language development of its English learners.

State ELL Resources

State Agency: Florida Department of Education

ELL Website: Bureau of Student Achievement through Language Acquisition

ELL Manual: ELL Database and Program Handbook (updated annually)

Laws & Regulations

The following documents offer additional information about statewide ELL regulations:

ELL Identification

Florida SEA requires that every school use a Home Language Survey as a screening mechanism for determining who should be assessed to identify the state's English learners. It requires schools to use assessments that are approved by the SEA for this identification purpose. Guidelines are outlined in the Requirements for Identification, Eligibility, and Programmatic Assessments of English Language Learners.

Placement Exam: WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test (W-APT)

[Formerly Comprehensive English Language Learning Assessment (CELLA)]

More information about placement procedures is available in the ELL Database and Program Handbook.

ELP Standards & Assessment

ELP Standards: WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards

ELP Assessment: WIDA-ACCESS for ELLs

ELL Instruction

Florida districts must submit an ELL plan to the SEA that has been reviewed by parent councils (See guidelines below). Approved instructional models include:

  • Sheltered – English
  • Sheltered – Core/Basic Subject Areas
  • Mainstream/Inclusion – English
  • Mainstream/Inclusion – Core/Basic Subject Areas
  • Maintenance and/or Developmental Bilingual Education
  • Dual Language

In addition, Florida outlines its ESOL Performance Standards for Teachers on the Department of Education website.

Statewide Standards-Based Assessment

Assessment: Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT)

Additional Information

Title III Grant Resources

NCELA: Title III Information

WIDA: Florida Contact Information

Common Core State Standards: Yes

Statewide Organizations

Central Florida TESOL

Central Florida TESOL is an organization committed to the promotion of the scholarship of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and English Language Learners in Central Florida and beyond.

Florida Center for Reading Research

The Florida Center for Reading Research conducts basic research on reading, reading growth, reading assessment, and reading instruction; disseminates information about research-based practices related to literacy instruction and assessment for children in pre-school through 12th grade; and conducts applied research that will have an immediate impact on policy and practices related to literacy instruction in Florida.

Florida Education Association

Florida Education Association, a statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, educates the public and supporters of public education to build a consensus for standards of excellence in our educational system.

Florida State Parent Information Resource Centers (Clearwater, FL)

Family Network on Disabilities of Florida, Inc. is a statewide resource provider and network for people who may be at-risk, have disabilities, or have special needs, as well as for their families and concerned citizens.

Florida State Parent Information Resource Centers (Tampa, FL)

The mission of the Florida PIRC at USF is to implement successful and effective parental involvement programs and practices that lead to increased student academic achievement and strengthen partnerships among parents and educators to meet the educational needs of children.

Sunshine State TESOL

Sunshine State TESOL is committed to building a community of professionals teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) in the state of Florida.



Ruiz Soto, Ariel G., Sarah Hooker, and Jeanne Batalova. 2015. States and Districts with the Highest Number and Share of English Language Learners. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/states-and-districts-highest-number-and-share-english-language-learners

Ruiz Soto, Ariel G., Sarah Hooker, and Jeanne Batalova. 2015. Top Languages Spoken by English Language Learners Nationally and by State. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/number-and-growth-students-us-schools-need-english-instruction-2009

Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students. Florida Rate of EL Growth (1997/98-2007/08). Compiled July 2010 and retrieved from http://www.ncela.gwu.edu/t3sis/state/florida/.