Skip to Content

English Language Learners


On this page...

According to Iowa Code section 280.4, a limited English proficient student is defined as follows: "a student's language background is in a language other than English, and the student's proficiency in English is such that the probability of the student's academic success in an English-only classroom is below that of an academically successful peer with an English language background." The term English Language Learners (ELL) will replace the term Limited English Proficient (LEP).

Title III - Part A - English Language Acquisition,
Language Enhancement and Academic Achievement

The Title III program assists states and school districts in teaching English to limited English proficient students, including immigrant students, and helping these students meet the same challenging academic standards expected of all students. The program accomplishes this by providing, through state allocations, federal funds to eligible agencies to address the language and achievement needs of English Language Learners (ELL). Each state is required to use 95% of its allocation for subgrants to eligible agencies. These funds are to be used for:

  1. increasing English proficiency by providing programs based on scientifically based research demonstrating effectiveness in increasing English proficiency and achievement in core academic subjects, and
  2. provide high-quality professional development to teachers, principals, administrators, and other school and community-based organization personnel.

Other authorized activities include:

  1. upgrading programs and services, including improving instructional programs, curricula, instructional materials, and assessment procedures;
  2. providing tutorial and academic or vocational education, or intensified instruction for ELL
  3. coordinating programs and services with other relevant programs, services, and providers
  4. providing community participation programs, family literacy services, and parent outreach and training. School districts with a significant increase in their immigrant student population compared to the previous 2-year period may be eligible for funds to serve immigrant students.

Superintendent Memo; October 7, 2015:

Update on Title III Federal Monitoring Citations and Responses

Title III General Information

Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students

Developing a LAU Plan

Writing a Corrective Action Plan

District Self Study Guide

ELP Standards and Assessments

English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards - The Iowa State Board of Education adopted these standards in January of 2014. Schools are required to use these standards in their Language Instruction Education Program (LIEP).

The ELPA21 Summative Assessment is the growth measure used to assess English language proficiency. This assessment is tightly aligned to the Iowa English Language Proficiency Standards and corresponds to the Iowa’s academic standards for English/Language Arts.  Placement decisions are made using the ELPA21 Screener (beginning August 1, 2018).

Iowa Guidelines for K-12 ELL Participation in Districtwide Assessments - Provides Iowa school districts with guidance for accommodating ELs in academic content assessments in mathematics, reading, and science.

English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21)

 The ELPA21 assessment system provides information regarding student proficiency of the English language overall, as well as in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and comprehension. The ELPA21 assessment system includes a summative measure of English language proficiency, a placement screener, and professional learning modules supporting a deeper understanding of Iowa’s English Language Proficiency Standards.

Lau (ELL) Plan

The Lau (ELL) Plan, so named from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1974 decision in Lau v. Nichols, has been added to C-Plan as a CSIP question.

Regardless of whether a district has identified English Language Learners (referred to as LEP in state and federal code) enrolled, the law requires the development of a plan to address the specific language instruction education needs should it become necessary to provide such services. The district should review and revise the Lau (ELL) Plan on an annual basis to ensure adequate preparation of all educational personnel to meet the unique needs of diverse language learners.

A Lau (ELL) Plan is required of both public and nonpublic accredited districts in accordance with Title III of the ESEA (PL 107-110) and federal civil rights law, as well as Iowa Code section 280.4 and Iowa Code section 216.9.

On an annual basis, districts and accredited nonpublic schools must use the Title III state-required Lau (ELL) Plan template. The Lau (ELL) Plan template, Lau (ELL) Plan Guidance Document, Evaluation Checklist and Option C of ELP Standards Training Template, are found below.

Lau Plan Template (2017-08-11)

Lau Plan Guidance Document (2017-08-11)

Lau Plan Checklist - (2017-08-11)

Option C - ELP Standards Plan Training Template - (2016-08-03)

State ELL Program

Educating Iowa's English Learners: A Handbook for Administrators and Teachers - The handbook gives Iowa educators a picture of the unique needs of English Language Learners (ELL). It offers a guide for providing equal access to the quality education available in the state. The handbook will primarily benefit those responsible for designing and implementing programs in local school districts.


2013-07-12 Title III Memo On Unused Allocations



AEA ELL Websites

Midtesol (

Our Kids


Center of Applied Linguistic (

Colorin Colorado (

Council of Chief State School Officers (

National Association of Bilingual Education (

Office of Civil Rights - U.S. Department of Education (

Office of English Language Acquisition - U.S. Department of Education (


Understanding Language - Stanford University (

WIDA English Language Development (ELD) Standards (


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on May 25, 2018 at 5:46am.