Title III - English Language Acquisition


2018 PD Opportunities

English Learners

School systems and educators have a legal responsibility to provide for the needs of English Learners. They also have the educational responsibility of ensuring that every child can achieve the level of knowledge and skills they need to be productive citizens who participate in all areas of our society.

  • If Limited English Proficiency (LEP) is suspected, the school must identify and test the students.
  • If there is at least one LEP student, the school must use a well thought out pedagogic approach based on sound educational practice and theory for each and every student.
  • The school must provide sufficiently qualified human resources, bilingual material, and appropriate programs and methodologies which will ensure the learning of English and the curriculum to the same extent as native English speaking students.
  • The school must evaluate the program to verify that it is providing effective instruction, similar to that of students without limitations in English.
  • After the evaluation, schools should amend programs to correct any deficiencies in meeting the educational needs of LEP students.

Who are English Learners?

English learner students are students with a home language background other than English, whose English language skills are not yet well enough developed for them to be able to participate successfully in classrooms where all academic instruction is provided in English. Numerous acts, laws, court decisions, and guidelines have been written over the years for those students. They combine to create and clarify the current legal responsibilities of all United State school districts for the education of EL students. The following acts, laws, and other legal references are presented, either in brief summaries or through quotes, so that parents, guardians, and school personnel will be more familiar with the school district’s obligations in the education of EL students.


1) 1868 - Fourteenth Amendment - "No state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

2) 1964 - Civil Rights Act, Title VI -"No person in the U.S. shall, on the ground of race, color, national origin be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

3) Bilingual Education Act (Amended in 1974 and 1978) - "The Congress declared it to be the policy of the United States, in order to establish equal educational opportunity for all children, (a) to encourage the establishment and operation, where appropriate, of educational programs using bilingual educational practices, techniques, and methods; and (b) for that purpose, to provide financial assistance to local education agencies, and to State education agencies for certain purposes, in order to enable such local educational agencies to develop and carry out such programs in elementary and secondary schools, including activities at the pre-school level, which are designed to meet the educational needs of such children; and to demonstrate effective ways of providing, for children of limited English speaking ability, instruction designed to enable them, while using their native language, to achieve competence in the English language."

4) May 25, 1970, Memorandum, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare - This memorandum interpreted the Civil Rights Act. It delineates the responsibility of school districts in providing equal education opportunity to national origin minority group students whose English language proficiency is limited. The following quotes discuss some major areas of concern with respect to compliance with Title VI and have the force of Law:

"Where inability to speak and understand the English language exclude national origin minority group children from effective participation in the educational program offered by a school district, the district must take affirmative steps to rectify the language deficiency in order to open its instructional program to these students."

"School districts have the responsibility to adequately notify national origin minority group parents of school activities which are called to the attention of other parents. Such notice, in order to be adequate, may have to be provided in a language other than English."

"School districts must not assign national origin minority group students to classes for the mentally retarded on the basis of criteria which essentially measure or evaluate English language skills; nor may school districts deny national origin minority group children access to college preparation courses on a basis directly related to the failure of the school system to inculcate English language skills."

5) 1974 - Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA) - "No state shall deny equal educational opportunity to an individual on account of his or her race, color, sex or nation origin, by ... the failure of an educational agency to take appropriate action to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by its students in its instructional programs."

English Language Proficiency

South Dakota is a part of the WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment), a consortium of states dedicated to the design and implementation of high standards and equitable educational opportunities for English learners. WIDA has created many research studies, educator resources, and training resources to help meet legal and program requirements for ELs. State-specific information regarding English language proficiency assessments, including important dates, materials, and training requirements, is posted on South Dakota's WIDA page.

Title III
The purpose of Title III is to:
  • Help ensure that English learners, including Immigrant children and youth, attain English language proficiency and meet the same standards that all children are expected to meet
Title III required activities:
  • Effective language instruction educational program
  • Effective professional development
  • Providing and implementing other effective activities and strategies that enhance or supplement language instruction educational programs, which must include parent, family, and community engagement activities


If you have questions, please contact the Title III Office at the South Dakota Department of Education at 605-773-6400.

Sign up to join the ELP Teachers List Serve.
Read detailed information on the workshops.