Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Navigate Up
Sign In

 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

The minimum Spring 2018 exit criteria for English Learner (EL) students in . grades 1-12 remains the same as noted in the 2017-2018 ESOL Resource Guide. No changes have been recommended. LEAs may exit EL students in grades 1-12 at the same WIDA ACCESS 2.0 minimum Overall Composite Proficiency Level (CPL) criterion chosen by the LEA in 2017, that falls within the state-approved 4.3-4.9 range, if they chose to exit below the WIDA ACCESS 2.0 Overall CPL 5.0 criterion. LEAs must exit exit EL students at he 5.0 criterion.

In addition, per the ESSA, LEAs will follow standardized statewide EL exit procedures. Teacher input and local flexibility is encouraged as LEAs established an EL exit criteria within the permitted range for ELs in grades 1-12; however, the Reclassification Process must be uniform across the state. An English Learner Reclassification Form​ has been developed for LEAs to use when exiting students below the 5.0 exit threshold within the 4.3-4.9 range. Even though many LEAs already started using this form at the end of the 2017-2018 school year, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, the EL Reclassification Form is a required form when an LEA is considering exiting students who score below a WIDA ACCESS 2.0 overall CPL 5.0.

It is important to remember that, based on GaDOE correlation studies, a WIDA ACCESS 2.0 overall CPL 4.3 correlates with a Georgia Milestones ELA Developing Level. When making reclassification decisions, please ensure the reclassification team is considering the English proficiency "level that enables students to effectively participate in grade-level content instruction in English" without English language instruction services (per OCR Dear Colleague Letter, Jan 2015, p. 33)


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. Margaret (Meg) Baker
Program Manager, ESOL/Title III, Part A
Email: ​ 

Dr. Jacqueline Ellis, NBCT
Program Specialist, ESOL

ESOL Language Program Questions & Support
(678) 794-3695

 ESOL Program Resources