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Bilingual Education & English as a New Language

Forms and Waivers

School District Justification to Expand the Maximum Allowable Grade Span to Three Contiguous Grades in   1-12 English as a New Language (ENL) or Bilingual Education (BE) Classes

The presence and population of English Language Learners/Multilingual Learners (ELLs/MLLs) vary considerably among New York State schools. Some communities have no ELLs/MLLs, while others have small numbers of ELLs/MLLs of wide-ranging ages; for instance, a district might have many ELLs/MLLs in grade 2 but none in grade 1. Others have enough ELLs/MLLs in a given grade to create one self-contained ENL classroom per grade or across two grades, with higher proficiency ELLs/MLLs distributed across the remaining classes. This demographic reality must, however, be balanced with what we know about best practices to use with this growing subset of our student body. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) understands that districts with small numbers of ELLs/MLLs may face challenges for finding appropriate staffing for ENL or BE classes. However, it is critical to keep in mind possible unintended consequences that can arise from grouping too many grades together for instructional purposes. This document  was created in response to feedback that the NYSED Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages (OBEWL) has received from the field regarding Commissioner’s Regulations (CR) Part 154, to support all districts’ efforts in meeting the grade span requirement of Part 154-2.3(i) and to provide guidance to qualifying districts with less than 30 ELLs/MLLs in applying for a one year waiver to expand the maximum allowable grade span from two to three grades.

Grade Span Waiver Guidance

Grade Span Waiver Form

CR Part 154 Professional Development Requirements Specific to English Language Learners: PD Waiver Form

Professional Development Requirements Chart

This table outlines the Professional Development Requirements under CR Part 154

Professional Development Waiver Form

This form is to be used by New York State school districts that have fewer than thirty (30) ELLs enrolled or in which ELLs make up less than five percent (5%) of the district’s total student population as of October 1, 2019.

According to CR Section 154-2.3(k) such districts may “seek permission from the Commissioner on an annual basis for an exemption from the professional development requirements” and such request must include evidence that:

“All teachers, level III teaching assistants, and administrators receive training sufficient to meet the needs of the district’s or BOCES’ ELLs, in language acquisition, including a focus on best practices for co-teaching strategies and integrating language and content instruction for ELLs” and that

“All Bilingual and English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) certified teachers receive training, sufficient to meet the needs of the district’s ELLs, in language acquisition in alignment with core content area instruction, including a focus on best practices for co-teaching strategies and integrating language and content instruction for ELLs.”

Note that this waiver does not exempt districts from providing professional development sufficient to meet the needs of its ELLs. It exempts districts from the minimum number of professional development hours required by CR Part 154 (15% of total required for classroom pedagogues and 50% of total required for those with a certificate in ESOL or who hold a bilingual extension).

Bilingual Education Program Waiver

School District Waiver - One Year Exemption from Providing Bilingual Education Programs in Languages other than Spanish or Chinese

This form is to be used by school districts that are seeking an exemption from providing Bilingual Education (BE) programs in languages spoken by less than 5% of the total statewide ELL population (any language other than Spanish or Chinese*). A district may apply for this exemption on an annual basis for no more than five consecutive years, if it does not have qualified staff to operate a BE program in a language other than Spanish or Chinese, for all eligible students at either the district level or at one or more schools that are required to offer a BE program.

In order to be granted this exemption, districts must: Demonstrate the efforts that are being made to recruit qualified bilingual teachers in the languages other than Spanish and Chinese that are needed to establish bilingual programs and the plans for ongoing and intensive efforts to recruit qualified BE teachers in that language; and a plan for how the district will provide alternate home language supports in the form of bilingual teacher assistants/aides and/or heritage language programs and make such home language supports available for all students who would otherwise be enrolled in a BE program.


Page updated: 12/05/19