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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.


Update!  ESOL Exit Criteria  April 2018 


Recent information provided from WIDA indicates that the maximum Writing score on the Kindergarten ACCESS is now 4.5 (instead of 6.0).  As a result, our Kindergarten exit criteria must be modified.  Beginning in Spring, 2018, to exit a Kindergarten student, that student must now achieve a 4.5 in Writing and a 5.0 or greater in each of the remaining domains of Listening, Speaking and Reading.  The student’s Overall score must also be 5.0 or greater.  Thus – the change to Kindergarten exit criteria is that the Writing domain required score has been reduced from a 5.0 to a 4.5.  All other criteria remain the same as in prior years.  *All Kindergarten students who meet these minimum criteria must be exited from the ESOL program.*
Grades 1 – 12
Our office has confirmed with the Office of Accountability that no changes will be recommended to the minimum exit criteria to be applied to Spring 2018 ACCESS 2.0 results for grades 1 -12.  Thus, if you choose, you may exit grades 1 - 12 English learners at the same scores you elected to exit last year’s grades 1 – 12 English learners.  The minimum exit criteria remain as noted in the 2017-2018 ESOL Resource Guide.
However, it is important to remember that GaDOE correlated a 4.3 Overall ACCESS score with the Developing level on the Georgia Milestones ELA assessment.  When making reclassification decisions, please ensure that you take into consideration the student’s likelihood of performing similarly in classes to his or her native English-speaking peers.
In addition, per the ESSA, exit procedures must now be standardized statewide.  While the GaDOE strongly supports teacher input and local control in setting exit criteria (within the permitted range of 4.3 – 4.9 in grades 1-12), the reclassification process must now be uniform across the state.  (For veteran LEA staff, you will find this process very similar to the Language Assessment Conference performed in prior years.)
To meet the requirements of this law, the GaDOE has developed a English Learner Reclassification Form. As our state’s ESSA plan describing this form was not approved until well into the school year, we are offering it as an option for you to use this spring, should your LEA choose to exit students below the 5.0 exit threshold.  Beginning in 2018-19 this will be a required form when considering for exit students who score below a 5.0 Overall so, for those LEAs electing to exit below the 5.0 criterion, you may wish to begin exposing your ESOL teachers to it this year.


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 Criteria

Georgia's Spring 2018 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 Spring 2018 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

​​Dr. Jacqueline Ellis, NBCT
Program Specialist, ESOL

 ESOL Program Resources