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Read Time:3 Minute, 11 Second

[Minnesota Department of Education logo]

[Title slide, “Frequently Asked Questions: ASL and English Learner Status”]

[James Paul Beldon, ASL talent, appears on screen and begins to sign.]

James Paul: At the beginning of the academic year, school districts and charter schools have a procedure to identify students who may be eligible for English Learner (EL) status. This is done through a two-step procedure: 1. the student’s home language is identified when the family completes the Minnesota Language Survey, which is done during the enrollment period; and 2. the student’s primary home language is not English, whereas the student will take a language proficiency test. If the student is found to not be proficient, they are eligible for instruction from a licensed English as a Second Language / English Language Development (ESL/ELD) teacher.

The Minnesota Learning English Academic Proficiency and Success supports multilingual learners and their families by emphasizing multilingualism as an asset and encourages instruction in the home language in the development of English skills, while retaining their home language skills across multiple modalities (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). Students who show proficiency in their home language can also earn bilingual and multilingual seals when they reach high school.

At the encouragement of families and the Deaf community, the MDE staff looked at the recognition and inclusion of ASL as a home language in the state English Learner identification and programming. This was effective starting with the 2021-2022 school year. These students are now screened for eligibility of EL status. Please do note that students who only use ASL in school but use English at home should not be screened for EL status. Those students who are identified as EL students are given opportunities for content-based instructional programs.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to evaluate students in their native language, identified as the best language that shows what the child can do academically, developmentally, and functionally.

[Slide with text briefly appears, “Questions & Answers”. The ASL talent then appears onscreen again.]

James Paul: Now, there are several questions that were brought up, and we will answer them.

[‘1’ briefly appears onscreen, top left corner.]

1. Does this new procedure allow for hearing students of Deaf parents/guardians to participate in EL services?

Yes, children whose home language is ASL may benefit from EL services. Students will be screened for EL status, and if eligible, can be formally included in ELD instruction.

[‘2’ briefly appears onscreen, top left corner.]

2. What about students that come from a Bilingual family? Parents/guardians use English and ASL?

Please refer to the Minnesota Language Survey’s statements, of which you can visit the MDE English Learner Education website for further information.

[‘3’ briefly appears onscreen, top left corner.]

3. Will the screener and Access test be updated for accessibility?

This is our first year with this and we are doing this on a case-by-case basis. We will need your help to identify where we have gaps. The Minnesota Assessment Procedures Manual outlines accommodations available for the various screening tests.

[‘4’ briefly appears onscreen, top left corner.]

4. Why are we encouraging paper format for the screening tests?
For English learners who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, using paper-based testing is not required, but it is strongly recommended as an accommodation for several reasons, including the following: Ease of providing signed test directions and eliminating the need to force students to use aural listening skills. Test administrators are not allowed to mix formats, so if paper-based testing is used for one portion of the assessment, it must be used for the full assessment.

[‘5’ briefly appears onscreen, top left corner.]

For the full transcript, go to https://docs.google.com/document/d/1r-Xb6XFCwkfvCzowLzK72lF2LE_z4Poq6pCFiMpFtJ4/edit?usp=sharing

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