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 English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) is a state-funded instructional program for eligible English Learners (ELs) in grades K-12 (Georgia School Law Code 1981, § 20-2-156, enacted in 1985). The ESOL program is a standards-based curriculum emphasizing academic and social language development. ESOL coursework is based upon the WIDA Consortium English Language Development (ELD) standards. Classroom teachers integrate these ELD standards with the Georgia Performance Standards to enable ELs to both communicate in English and demonstrate their academic, social, and cultural proficiency. Instructional approaches, both in ESOL and general education classes, ensure that the needs of Georgia’s ELs are accommodated. In ESOL programs it is appropriate, when practicable, to use the EL’s home language as a means of facilitating instruction and providing parents with school-related information.

For information about the federal programs that enhance Georgia's foundational language services for English Learners, please visit the Title III webpage.


Our Nation's English Learners - Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education

"English learners (ELs) are a growing part of the K–12 student population. Between the 2009–10 and 2014–15 school years, the percentage of EL students increased in more than half of the states, with increases of over 40 percent in five states.1 Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, states must annually assess the English language proficiency of ELs, provide reasonable accommodations for them on state assessments, and develop new accountability systems that include long-term goals and measures of progress for ELs. While Spanish was the most common language spoken by ELs at home in 2014–15, in some states there was more variation in the home language. The need to support less commonly spoken languages could also be different across school districts.                 

Information about the characteristics and location of ELs in the following story map may help inform decisions about the provision of instructional supports and services for these students. These figures represent the latest look at ELs across the country, primarily using publicly available data for the 2014–15 and 2009–10 school years."
Georgia ESOL Teacher Certification
ESOL Teacher Certification questions should be directed to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC). It is this agency that establishes teacher certification rules, reviews transcripts, advises prospective teachers on certification requirements and issues teacher endorsements and certifications. Please visit the Georgia PSC website for any ESOL certification questions.



The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and ELs 

 Summary of EL-Related Changes for 2017-18

Under the ESSA amendment of the ESEA, the Parent Notification Letter for Title-funded Language Services is now solely a Title I requirement.  In past years, however, this was a Title III responsibility and Georgia's Title III version sought to reduce districts' paperwork burden by including within it elements of both ESOL and Title III requirements.

As the state transitioned to compliance with the ESSA law, it was necessary to remove the ESOL notification elements of the letter - leaving only those elements required under Title I.  This resulted in a need for a new "ESOL services" letter to be developed for dissemination to parents.  This letter, or a district developed version of this letter, must be sent to the parents of every student who is found to qualify or continue to qualify for ESOL services after July 1, 2017.  Parent Notification Letter for ESOL Services
ESOL Eligibility/Exit
  • New! ESOL Exit Criteria Option - July 2017  
The Department has recently completed its statewide analysis of the 2017 ACCESS 2.0 scores and their relationship both to prior year scores as well as the Georgia Milestones ELA assessments.  As local districts have noted, composite scores across the state decreased as a result of the revised ACCESS scaling.  This was not unique to Georgia;  
other states saw similar decreases due to the higher expectations set for ACCESS 2.0.  As a result, very few EL students met the exit criterion of 5.0 Composite Proficiency Level (CPL), despite some showing strong classroom performance and achieving high scores on (for grades 3-12) Georgia Milestones assessments.
Based on the Department’s analysis, it was determined that an ACCESS 2.0 CPL score of 4.3 is associated with performance within the Developing Learner achievement level.  In light of this information and to allow for local input, the Department is providing local school districts with the option of exiting from the ESOL program students whose 2017 grade 1 – 12 ACCESS CPL was 4.3 or greater. 
The decision to apply this 4.3 (or greater) exit criterion is at the district’s discretion and can be made according to a process developed internally by the district. For civil rights purposes, the state strongly encourages that the district-developed procedure be applied uniformly to EL students across the district.  (Please note: Future placement decisions – those made based on the upcoming 2018 ACCESS performance - will fall under the ESSA requirements of “uniform statewide entrance and exit procedures.”)

Awards & Recognitions

Georgia's Spring 2017 Star ESOL Student & Teacher Award Winners

Star English Learners are graduating seniors whose character, academic grades and extracurricular activities reflect an exemplary level of achievement. These ESOL students are nominated by their school district and final selections are made by a state level committee. The Star students then select for recognition the "Star" ESOL teacher who has had a particularly positive impact on his or her life.  Congratulations to our regional winners!
For more information about Star Award nomination rules, click here

WIDA Consortium

Since 2006 Georgia has been part of the WIDA Consortium, a group now consisting of 39 member states. Together with our colleague-states, we work in close collaboration with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER), the Center for Applied Linguistics and Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) to ensure that our English Language Proficiency assessment (ACCESS for ELLs 2.0) and our ESOL teaching standards remain reliable and valid across administration years. Click on the WIDA link below to learn more about our consortium’s K-12 English Language Development (ELD) Standards and the assessments used with ELs (W-APT and WIDA screeners and the end-of-year ACCESS for ELLs 2.0).



 Contact Information


Cori Alston
Program Manager, Title III & ESOL

Dr. Jacqueline Ellis, NBCT                                     Program Specialist, ESOL                                               404-463-1858                                                          Email:


 ESOL Program Resources