Public Education:

Title I Services Provided to Students With Limited English Proficiency

HEHS-00-25: Published: Dec 10, 1999. Publicly Released: Dec 10, 1999.

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Cynthia Maher Fagnoni
(202) 512-7202
contact@gao.gov

 

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) how many students with limited English proficiency are being served through targeted and schoolwide Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title I programs; (2) how students with limited English proficiency are being served through targeted and schoolwide Title I programs; (3) how many Title I teachers in schools serving students with limited English proficiency are bilingual or have other specialized training in teaching these students; and (4) what accommodations do states allow for students with limited English proficiency in taking academic assessments, including offering tests in their native language, and to what extent are these students participating in academic assessments.

GAO noted that: (1) Title I educational programs serve about 2 million of the estimated 3.5 million students with limited English proficiency; (2) these children receive services through programs targeted specifically to disadvantaged children who may be at risk of failing in school as well as programs intended to improve learning for all students in a school; (3) about two-thirds of students with limited English proficiency served by Title I programs attend schools that have schoolwide programs; (4) of the one third of students with limited English proficiency who attend schools with targeted assistance programs, no national data are available on the number who participate in Title I programs; (5) the services students most often receive are in supplemental reading, language arts, and math; (6) instruction targeted specifically to the educational needs of nonnative speakers of English is primarily funded by state and local programs and other non-Title I federal programs; (7) in school year 1997-1998, 10 percent of the schools with targeted assistance programs used Title I funds to provide this kind of instruction to help nonnative speakers acquire English; (8) there is no national information on the number of teachers in positions funded by Title I who are bilingual or who have other specialized training in teaching students with limited English proficiency; (9) about 10 percent of teachers with students with limited English proficiency were certified to teach English as a Second Language to native speakers of other languages; (10) according to a survey by the Council of Chief State School Officers, most states allow districts to provide help to students with limited English proficiency so they can more easily participate in academic assessments; (11) the type of help allowed often has included such assistance as extra time to answer questions, having someone read directions aloud, or translating instructions and test items into a student's native language; (12) five states allow students to respond to test questions in their native language; (13) districts generally are allowed to determine which students may need accommodations as well as the specific accomodation that would most benefit them; and (14) GAO found no national data that showed how frequently districts actually provided accommodations to students with limited English proficiency or the degree to which they actually participate in academic assessments.

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