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A bilingual site for families and educators of English language learners
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As of the 2007-2008 school year, Illinois schools were home to more than 175,400 English language learners (ELLs), which marks a 28% from the 1997-1998 school year (NCELA, 2010). The top five languages or language groups spoken by ELLs in STATE are Spanish, Polish, Urdu, Chinese, and Frence (EPE, 2009).

Illinois is a member of WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment), joining in 2004. 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: Illinois State Board of Education

ELL Website: English Language Learning

"The Division provides leadership, advocacy and support to districts, policymakers and citizens by promoting equitable access to language support services for students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who have been identified as English Language Learners. These services will assist them to become lifelong learners, able to contribute to and function in a multicultural and globally competitive world."

ELL Manual: Illinois State Board of Education Guidance Document for Language Support Services* (PDF)

ELL Identification

Illinois provides guidelines for identifying ELLs in Guidance for Access Testing for Newly Enrolled Students* (PDF).

Home Language Survey: Home Language Survey Form

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

ELP Standards & Assessment

ELP Standards: WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards


ELL Instruction

ISBE Guidance Document: Section 228.27 Plan for Language Support Services* (PDF)

Section 9 of this document states that "a number of language acquisition models are considered to be educational sound and support by scientifically based research. The Office of Civil Rights and the Illinois State Board of Education do not require a particular education approach to the instruction of English learners. Thus, districts have substantial flexibility when developing programs to meet the needs of English learners." These include:

  • Transitional Bilingual Education
  • Developmental Bilingual
  • Dual Language/Two Way Immersion
  • English as a second language [ESL]
  • Content-based ESL
  • Sheltered English Instruction

Statewide Standards-Based Assessment

Assessment: Illinois Standards Achievement Test

Parent Notification: Illinois State Board of Education provides a range of documents for parents.

Additional Information

Title III Information

WIDA: Illinois Contact Information

Common Core State Standards: Yes

Preschool Information

Preschool Programming for English Learners: A description of frequently asked questions about programming for pre-school-aged English learners is offered in Serving English Language Learners in Preschool Programs in Illinois Public School Districts 23 (Ill. Adm. Code Part 228 Frequently Asked Questions*)

Pre-school placement testing for English learners: Identification assessment of pre-school English learners* (PDF)

Statewide Organizations

Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative, University of Illinois

The Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative at the University of Illinois is home to more than a dozen projects focused on the education, care, and parenting of young children.

Illinois DREAM Act Information

A summary of statewide legislation makeing Illinois the first state in the country to create a private scholarship fund for undocumented youth. It also eases the path to higher education for undocumented youth, 65% of whom come from households that earn 200% under the poverty line.

Illinois Education Association-NEA

Illinois Education 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.

Illinois Federation of Teachers

The Illinois Federation of Teachers, a statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, represents 103,000 men and women who teach in school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois& community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees.

Illinois State Parent Information Resource Centers

Illinois PIRC offers a variety of programs, resources and information to help parents, teachers, and schools statewide increase parent involvement and improve student success.

Illinois TESOL/BE

Illinois TESOL-BE is a non-profit professional organization of individuals involved in professional development, legislation, government issues, and special interest groups for the teaching of English to speakers of other languages and bilingual education.

Latinos Progresando

Latinos Progresando is a registered nonprofit organization based in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. We assist clients in applying for immigration benefits, do community education and outreach, and advocate and organize around policy that is just to immigrants.

Tibetan Alliance of Chicago

The Tibetan Alliance of Chicago is a volunteer organization dedicated to empowering Chicago's Tibetan community and fostering its further development. The Tibetan Alliance provides services aimed at enabling the community and each Tibetan to meet their needs and achieve their economic, social, cultural and political goals.


Editorial Projects in Education (EPE). "Most Common Non-English Languages Spoken by ELL Youths, by State." Perspectives on a Population: English-Language Learners in American Schools (Education Week's Quality Counts 2009 Report). Pg. 13. Retrieved from January 2009.

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

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