Rhode Island: ELL Resources

As of the 2012-13 school year, Rhode Island's schools were home to more than 8,500 English language learners (ELLs), which marks a 12% decrease from the 2002-2003 school year (Migration Policy Institute, 2015). Currently, the most common five languages spoken by ELLs in Rhode Island are Spanish, Creole and Pidgin, Portuguese, Central Khmer, and Chinese.

Rhode Island is a member of WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment), joining in 2003. 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: Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

ELL Website: English Language Learners

ELL Identification

Placement Exam: WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test

ELP Standards & Assessment

ELP Standards: WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards


Statewide Standards-Based Assessment

Assessment: Rhode Island State Assessment Program (RISAP)

In addition, the Rhode Island Department of Education, New Hampshire Department of Education, and Vermont Department of Education have developed a common set of Grade-Level Expectations, known as the New England Common Assessment Program Grade-Level Expectations (NECAP GLEs), and test specifications in Mathematics, Reading, and Writing. Building on the success of the NECAP collaboration in Mathematics, Reading, and Writing, the states have developed common assessment targets and test specifications for Science. Grade-Span Expectations (GSEs) for high school students in Mathematics, Reading and Writing have been developed for grades 9-10 and 11-12.

Additional Information

NCELA: Title III Information

WIDA: Rhode Island Contact Information

Common Core State Standards: Yes


Statewide Organizations


RITELL (Rhode Island Teachers of English Language Learners) is a non-profit organization for ESOL and Bilingual Education professionals in Rhode Island and an affiliate of TESOL.

NEA Rhode Island

NEA Rhode Island 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.

Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals

Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals is the State Affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.

Rhode Island State Parent Information Resource Centers

The goal of the Rhode Island State PIRC's Project School Connect (PSC) is to bring families and educators into partnership through education on the benefits received by students, parents and schools when families, schools and communities come together for student success.

College Planning Center of RI

The College Planning Center of RI offers students and parents advice on college planning and financial aid. Information is available in Spanish.



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. Rhode Island Rate of EL Growth (1997/98-2007/08). Compiled July 2010 and retrieved from http://www.ncela.gwu.edu/t3sis/state/rhodeisland/.

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