Massachusetts: ELL Resources

As of the 2012-13 school year, Massachusetts's schools were home to more than 71,000 English language learners (ELLs), which marks a 41% increase from the 2002-2003 school year (Migration Policy Institute, 2015). Currently, the most common five languages spoken by ELLs in Massachusetts are Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian, Chinese, Creole and Pidgin.

Massachusetts 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: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

ELL Website: English Language Learners

Laws & Regulations

ELL Guidance: Massachusetts ELL Guidance Website

Note: In 2002, Massachusetts voters approved of a referendum amend its laws about transitional bilingual education to a program of sheltered English immersion where students would receive sheltered English immersion using English as the primary means of instruction with clarification in the native language, when needed. Under these laws, with the exception of dual language programming where native speakers of English and speakers of another language are enrolled in programming to continue developing their home language while learning a second, waivers for bilingual education programming must be obtained.

See Questions and Answers Regarding Chapter 71A: English Language Education in Public Schools for more information.

ELL Identification

ELL Identification: Massachusetts ELL Guidance Website

Home Language Survey: According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education "each district should design a Home Language Survey that meets its own needs." Massachusetts provides a suggested Home Language Survey and translations into multiple languages.

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

ELP Standards & Assessment

ELP Standards: WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards

ELP Assessment: WIDA-ACCESS for ELLs

Statewide Standards-Based Assessment

Assessment: Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

ELL Accommodations: See Participation Requirements for more information.

Additional Information

NCELA: Title III Information

WIDA: Massachusetts Contact Information

Common Core State Standards: Yes


Statewide Organizations

AFT Massachusetts

AFT Massachusetts is a statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers that works for education reform and the preservation of public schools.

Massachusetts Association of Teachers to Speakers of Other Languages

Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages (MATSOL) is a professional association representing teachers, English language learners and their families in K-12 public schools in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts DOE Resources for Family and Community Involvement

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education offers resources for family literacy and community involvement, providing information about program design and links to other useful Web sites.

Massachusetts DOE Resources for Family and Community Involvement: Additional Resources

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education offers online federal resources for educational excellence, family resources from the MA Department of Social Services, and guidelines for learning at museums.

Massachusetts State Parent Information Resource Centers

The purpose of the Massachusetts State PIRC is to enhance the capacities of parents, families, schools, and school districts to improve children's school readiness and students' academic achievement through increased parental participation.

Massachusetts Teachers Association

Massachusetts Teachers Association is a National Education Association State Affiliate that regularly lobbies legislators for the resources schools need, campaigns for higher professional standards for the teaching profession, and files legal actions to protect academic freedom and the rights of school employees.



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.

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.

Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students. Massachusetts Rate of EL Growth (1997/98-2007/08). Compiled July 2010 and retrieved from