Colorado: ELL Resources

As of the 2016-2017 school year, Colorado's schools were home to more than 105,500 English language learners. As of the 2014-2015 school year, the most common five languages spoken by ELLs in Colorado were Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Russian. (U.S. Dept. of Education, National Center for Education Statistics)

Colorado is a member of WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment), fully adopting WIDA in 2013. 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: Colorado Department of Education (CDE)

ELL Website: Office of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education

ELL Manual: Guidebook on Designing, Delivering, and Evaluating Services for English Learners (updated 10/16)

Toolkit: Learners who are Culturally and/or Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Suspected of Having Educational Disabilities

Laws & Regulations

The following documents offer additional information about statewide ELL regulations:

ELL Identification

Home Language Survey: Title III information includes a Home Language Survey.

Placement Exam: W-APT

ELP Standards & Assessment

ELP Standards: WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards

ELP Assessment: WIDA-ACCESS for ELLs

ELL Instruction

The Colorado State Department of Education allows LEAs a good deal of flexibility in determining the means by which English learners are instructed.

Statewide Standards-Based Assessment

Assessment: Colorado Assessment Information

Accommodations information: Annual Instructional & Assessment Accommodations Training (PPT)

Additional Information

NCELA: Title III Information

WIDA: Colorado Contact Information

Common Core State Standards: Yes

ESSA: Colorado ESSA State Plan

Statewide Organizations

AFT Colorado

CFT, the Colorado statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, gains improved working conditions for teachers and better learning conditions for students by proposing statewide tenure laws, teacher certification standards, school district reorganization, and improved school financing.

Colorado Education Association

Colorado Education 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.

Parent Resource Centers

State parent information resource centers are listed in this directory compiled by the Center for Parent Information & Resources. Also see Promising Partnership Practices in Colorado.

Colorado TESOL

CoTESOL is a dynamic, growing organization of educators involved in various aspects of second language learning and bilingual education.

Colorado: Seal of Biliteracy

Colorado adopted the Seal of Biliteracy in 2017, following a pilot program in local districts. 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.

Note: Regulations change with time. These guidelines were compiled in January of 2012 and updated in January 2020. If you see something that needs updating, please send an e-mail to Colorín Colorado. For more detailed information regarding ELL guidelines and policies at the state and federal levels, please see the following:


National Center for Education Statistics. (2018.) English language learner (ELL) students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, fall 2000 through fall 2016. 

U.S. Department of Education. Our Nation’s English Learners. Most Common Non-English Languages Spoken by English Learners.