District of Columbia: ELL Resources

As of the 2012-13 school year, District of Columbia's schools were home to more than 6,500 English language learners (ELLs), which marks a 25% increase from the 2002-2003 school year (Migration Policy Institute, 2015). Currently, the most common five languages spoken by ELLs in District of Columbia are Spanish, Amharic, French, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

The District of Columbia 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.

District ELL Resources

District Agency: District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS)

ELL Website: DC ELLs Program and Support

ELP Standards & Assessment

ELP Standards: WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards

ELP Assessment: WIDA-ACCESS for ELLs

Statewide Standards-Based Assessment

Assessment: DC Assessment

ELL Accommodations: Guideline for Inclusion of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners

Additional Information

NCELA: Title III Information

WIDA: DC Contact Information

Common Core State Standards: Yes


Statewide Organizations

District of Columbia State Parent Information Resource Centers

The D.C. Parental Information Resource Center provides leadership, coordination, and services that enable parents, educators, and the Washington, DC community at large to be partners and work collaboratively to improve student academic achievement and the quality of schools for all students through such partnerships.

The Refugee Experience Series

The Refugee Experience Series is a group of volunteers in the Washington, DC area dedicated to raising awareness of the refugee experience through films and discussions.

University of the District of Columbia Faculty Association/NEA

University of the District of Columbia Faculty Association/NEA 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.

Washington D.C. Area TESOL

WATESOL is the Washington, D.C.-area association for teachers of English to speakers of other languages.

Washington Teachers' Union

The Washington Teachers' Union is the Washington, D.C.-based affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.


Washington, D.C.: Seal of Biliteracy

The District of Columbia adopted the Seal of Biliteracy in 2014. The Seal of Biliteracy is an award given by a school, district, or state in recognition of students who have studied and attained proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation. This story from The Washington Post highlights Seal of Biliteracy programs in D.C. and its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia.


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

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