Washington, D.C.: ELL Resources

Map of Washington, D.C.

As of the 2016-2017 school year, Washington’s schools were home to over 122,000 English language learners. As of the 2014-2015 school year, the most common five languages spoken by ELLs in Washington were Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Somali, and Chinese. (U.S. Dept. of Education, National Center for Education Statistics)

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

ESSA: District of Columbia ESSA Plan

Statewide Organizations

Advocates for Justice and Education, Inc.

Advocates for Justice and Education seeks to empower families, youth, and the community to be effective advocates to ensure that children and youth, particularly those who have special needs, receive access to appropriate education and health services.

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.

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.