A 5204

“Guidance to Identify English Language Learners”

NJEA supports A-5204 (Caride).  This legislation would require the Commissioner of Education to develop guidance on identifying English language learners (ELL) in grades kindergarten through 12 who may have special needs.

In its January 2018 presentation on the state of English Language Learners, the New Jersey Department of Education reported that there were 72,081 ELLs for the 2016-2017 school year.  Since 2010, the ELL population in New Jersey has increased by 17,000 students, helping to make New Jersey a state with the fourth highest immigrant population in the United States.

A-5204 would direct the Commissioner of Education to develop guidance that will assist districts in:

  • recognizing and addressing the potential challenges of identifying English language learners who may require classification as a special education student,
  • the use of multiple methods and measures in assessing the eligibility of a student who is an English language learner for special education programs and services,
  • the importance of professional development for and collaboration among teachers in the identification process, including teachers of English language learner programs, special education teachers, and general classroom teachers.

One of NJEA’s core values is to make sure that every student has the resources and opportunities they need to meet their academic, social and emotional potential.  Identifying students with learning disabilities can be complicated – teachers have to be able to recognize whether students are struggling with learning a new language or whether there is a deeper academic difficulty.  It is vital that our members have the resources and guidance they need to ensure that our English language learners are placed in the most appropriate instructional program.

We appreciate that the sponsor of this legislation recognizes that teachers of English language learners programs, special education teachers and general education teachers have the time and opportunity to collaborate so that they can best serve their students.

NJEA asks you to vote YES on A-5204.

Text of bill


A 1104 "Hunger-Free Students' Bill of Rights Act"; requires certain school meal information be provided to...

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