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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, Massachusetts schools were home to more than 48,900 English language learners (ELLs), which marks an 8.1% increase from the 1997-1998 school year (NCELA, 2010). The top five languages or language groups spoken by ELLs in Massachusetts are Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Chinese, and French Creole (EPE, 2009).

Note: Massachusetts is in the process of adopting the WIDA standards. Pending approval, use of WIDA standards will begin in the academic year 2012-2013.

State ELL Resources

State Agency: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

ELL Website: English Language Learners

Laws & Regulations

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

See Identifying Limited English Proficient Students.

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.

Placement Exam: Massachusetts does not mandate a particular ELL identification assessment. It does, however, provide a list of suggested assessments. It is important to note that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has begun steps to become a WIDA state, at which time it may move to the WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test (W-APT).

ELP Standards & Assessment

ELP Standards: English Language Performance and Benchmark Outcomes [ELPBO]

ELP Assessment: Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment

Note: When the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education becomes a WIDA state, it will use the WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards and WIDA Access for its ELP standards and assessments.

ELL Instruction

The following documents offer information about ELL instruction:

Statewide Standards-Based Assessment

Assessment: Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

ELL Accommodations: See Participation Requirements for more information.

Additional Information

NCELA: Title III 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.


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. Massachusetts Rate of EL Growth (1997/98-2007/08). Compiled July 2010 and retrieved from

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